It’s come to be a familiar lament in the age of legal marijuana: Pot from locations enjoy Colorado and Washington is making its means every one of over the country, producing headaches for law enforcement.
Nebraska and Oklahoma recently sued Colorado over the state’s legal marijuana market (the Best Court declined to take up the case). Sheriffs in neighboring states have been complaining concerning the strain that Colorado Pot is placing on tight law enforcement budgets. A recent USA Today story described a “circulation of high-quality marijuana from Colorado” and in to various other states.
It Could appear as if the country is drowning in cheap, potent Colorado weed. However federal datasets tell a a lot more complicated story: Nationwide, federal marijuana trafficking offenses are on the decline.
The United States Sentencing Commission (USSC), which compiles data on federal law enforcement efforts, recently released its latest drug trafficking statistics. And they prove to that federal marijuana trafficking offenses have actually fallen sharply due to the fact that 2012, the year that Colorado and Washington residents voted to legalize marijuana. The decline continues through 2015, the current year for which data is available.
“The variety of marijuana traffickers flower slightly in the long run until a sharp decline in fiscal year 2013 and the number continues to decrease,” the report says. Meanwhile trafficking in various other drugs, notably meth and heroin, appears to be on the rise.
Now, these numbers don’t necessarily contradict reports that Colorado Pot is making its means elsewhere. “The vast majority of marijuana-related arrests and prosecutions are earned by regional and state authorities,” said Beau Kilmer, a drug policy researcher along with the RAND Corp., in an email. The USSC data just tracks federal offenses, so even if state and regional cops are seeing a lot more marijuana moving between borders, you wouldn’t expect that to prove to up here.
But the USSC’s numbers do prove to that at the federal level, marijuana trafficking is becoming much less of a problem. It’s not clear why this is happening. “The Commission is not able to lure further conclusions concerning the decline using our data,” said Jenn Dukes Jordan, a public affairs specialist along with USSC, in an email. “Numerous factors are most likely at play (perhaps prosecutorial charging decisions, perhaps legalization, etc.) and there’s no short article concerning these factors in our data.”
RAND’s Beau Kilmer says there are three severe variables that affect the variety of trafficking arrests: “1) efforts earned by law enforcement, 2) efforts earned by the smugglers to conceal the contraband, and 3) the quantity of contraband being shipped. Thus, there could be multiple explanations for the decrease at the federal level.” However he agrees that the USSC’s data doesn’t point to which of these are behind the decline in marijuana trafficking offenses.
The Drug Enforcement Administration, which enforces federal drug trafficking laws, did not respond to questions concerning the data.
There’s no doubt that some marijuana from locations enjoy Colorado and Washington is being illegally sent elsewhere. However if this were actually a serious, nationwide problem you’d expect federal marijuana trafficking offenses to be rising. Instead, they’re falling. This suggests that involves concerning interstate marijuana smuggling could be overblown.