By Jennifer Brice
DENVER (CBS4)– Voters in four other states this week approved measures that legalize marijuana: California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada. Colorado is one of eight states in with legal recreational pot.
Law enforcement told CBS4 they hope recreational pot in other states will lessen the negative impacts that they see here.
Tom Gorman heads up a federal drug enforcement program called the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area. He says Colorado has fueled the black marijuana market but wonders if other states will now lessen that burden.
When CBS4’s Jennifer Brice asked, “Will they absorb some of the organized crime?” Gorman replied, “Where they (organized crime) then go to California, Nevada and Massachusetts?
Gorman believes that would be an advantage to the state of Colorado. Gorman adds that the Midwest states of Missouri, Kansas and Iowa get a lot of Colorado’s legal pot with two tons seized in last six years.
Despite the recent legalization of marijuana in those states, it remains illegal under federal law.
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Zev Varoslavsky of UCLA’s School of Public Affairs says people at the grassroots level at states across the country are balking at the federal laws.
“So the federal government and the states are going to have to come to the table and work this out,” said Varoslavsky.
While President-Elect Donald Trump hasn’t said what he’ll do about recreational marijuana, he’s made it clear in previous interviews that he’s not a fan of Colorado’s industry.
Gorman warns other states that marijuana isn’t just about tax revenue and decriminalizing pot.
He says it comes with a price, “You can expect more hospitalizations, fatalities and poison control calls and your usage will grow.”
Marijuana insiders told CBS4 that pot operations in Colorado could also lose value as other states legalize the drug. They believe the consulting industry could boom with Colorado as proof of concept for other states.