Nebraska drug crime attorneys are doing just fine since Colorado legalized marijuana, but the same can’t be said for the state itself, as Nebraska law enforcement budgets are being drained dramatically. How do they know the pot is coming from Colorado? Well, even though their marijuana can only be purchased with cash (leaving no connection due to a virtually nonexistent paper trail), Sheriff Adam Hayward has his theories.
“We have had a significant increase in the amount of cases and incidences with marijuana coming across from Colorado. One in every five cars, we are now finding something there,” Hayward said.
At this point, lawmakers are taking the wait and see approach on the subject, but this is not reassuring to heads of law enforcement who are fighting a war on weed, with no end in sight. The law remains firm: anyone caught with an ounce or more of marijuana faces three months in jail. But many drug crimes attorneys and police say this doesn’t seem to deter drug dealers and buyers. In fact, Deuel County deputies have confiscated an entire year’s worth of 1-ounce violators in the past four months, most of it supposedly from Colorado—and Nebraska is footing the bill.
“We are paying for them to be housed. We are paying for them to be fed. We are paying for their medical expenses, which a lot of them do have,” Sheriff Hayward said. And then a lot of them, even though they have money to buy drugs, they don’t have money to pay for their drug crime attorneys. Therefore, the county has to pay for the public defender.”
The representative of Deuel County, Sen. Ken Schilz, agrees, saying “It’s a huge issue. The sheriff there is having to, and the county, pay for a lot of the enforcement and a lot of the prosecutions.”
Though Schilz is very concerned about the issue, he readily admits that the problem is not going to vanish. He is also not pushing to fix it. “With this year the way it was, we just didn’t have enough information and enough knowledge out there about what was going on to really affect the change that we need to have or what that change might be,” he said.
Though Schilz is unsure what to do, he does think the problem lies in the punishment. “It would be a good idea, in my mind, if they would have harsher fines, as far as those people caught with under a pound,” Schilz said. “If we could just have the authority to cite them with a heavier fine and let them go down the road, but the flip side of that is, are they going to pay their ticket then?”
Hayward agrees that speculation and information is good, but with every minute of indecisiveness, the clock is invariably ticking. Each minute is essentially costing Nebraska tax payers more money. “We’re just going to keep after it and try to get ahead of it,” Hayward said.
It will be at least another year before lawmakers can discuss the issue because legislature is out of session, but even then a senator needs to write a bill.