Colorado sheriff describes effects of legalized weed to Jefferson County officials

Updated: May. 18, 2021 at 4:00 PM EDT
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WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - Since marijuana was legalized in New York state last month, proponents have said it will bring in money, bring down crime, and discourage black market sales.

However, Jefferson County officials heard a different story Tuesday from a sheriff in Colorado, where weed has been legal for a number of years.

“This is what’s happening in the houses in the state of Colorado. I’m telling you it will happen in the state of New York because the opportunity will present itself. When the legislators say it will stop the black market, it will not. It will increase the black market,” said Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock.

He sat down with Jefferson County officials to discuss the effects the legalization of recreational marijuana has had on Colorado.

He says even in legal dispensaries, people are finding ways to sell weed illegally.

“Most of all the violations that the district attorneys have ever filed is the back-door sale of legitimate marijuana in a dispensary that has a license, but they’re selling it out the back door at a reduced price, or they’re selling other manufactured marijuana,” said Spurlock.

Even then, he says there isn’t much law enforcement in Colorado can do.

“They are required to allow law enforcement to come into their store at any time. If we go to it, we show our badges, they have to let us in. But, we’re restricted to what we can do. We can’t look at their log. We’re really not even supposed to be talking to their customers,” he said.

Sheriff Spurlock left Jefferson County leaders with this: “Whether you like marijuana, you think the sale of marijuana is good for your community or not, I’m here to tell you there’s going to be unintended consequences.”

New York lawmakers say recreational marijuana will generate hundreds of millions of dollars in sales tax revenue and put an end to what Governor Cuomo has called “exaggerated injustice,” the overprosecution of poor people and minority groups on marijuana offences.

As discussions about legalization ramp up across the state, local municipalities can decide if they want to sell weed or not, but they can’t stop people from using or carrying a certain amount of pot.

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