Paul, whose name has been changed for this article, has been dodging marijuana busts and dealing drugs for several years while attending the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, paying his way through school. Now a senior, he says that business has never been better. His sales have gone up dramatically since Colorado legalized marijuana because he is now able to travel there to pick up weed, or even have it shipped to him.
The entire nation is keenly aware of how marijuana has socially and economically impacted its neighbors. Nebraska, in particular, is feeling the influx of illegal marijuana crossing the border, resulting in more marijuana busts, and, as a result, more of a workload for police. For example, the small Nebraskan town of Chappell (seven miles north of the Colorado border) has seen a substantial increase of 400 percent in just the past three years.
In a statewide survey, 66 percent of Nebraskan law enforcement officials felt the legalization of marijuana in Colorado negatively impacted the illegal drug trade in their region. In fact, the impact rose 32 percent for all law enforcement serving along the I-80 corridor. The arrests made drain the state’s money, now going to fund fighting drugs and processing marijuana busts. This is all while Colorado gains revenue on its sales—which have been more than $3 million in the second quarter of the 2013-2014 fiscal year.
However, Paul believes that Colorado’s liberal pot laws cannot be solely blamed.
“It’s just additional weed on top of a large market that’s already there,” he said. “But, obviously, there’s a little bit of an increase.”
The laws have now changed in Nebraska, with marijuana possession now decriminalized. This means that if police find less than an ounce of the drug on an individual, there is a fine instead of jail time.
“Many drug dealers take advantage of that law,” Paul said.
“The people that usually go to the dispensaries don’t bring back a felony amount—they bring back a personal amount,” he said.
Paul, a senior advertising major, recently traveled to Colorado in early September. He said the dispensary he visited was “cannabis heaven.” After placing his ID through a protective glass screen, he was able to enter the store. There he had his choice of dozens of jars of marijuana and edible weed products, like cookies, brownies and other confections.
When Paul traveled back to Nebraska, he said he was frightened to find large signs warning of a roadblock ahead that said “Cop K-9 dog in use”—but, fortunately for him, never happened.
“I just don’t see how it would be a problem for people to bring (marijuana) back over,” he said.