We are a little ways away from Medical Marijuana becoming fully implemented in the state, but law enforcement is still preparing. And they’re looking into impacts the drug has had on other states such as Colorado.
North Dakota sheriffs, deputies, and police chiefs gathered in Bismarck this week for their annual conference. A hot topic of discussion: medical marijuana. So, they brought in an expert.
“It was a chance to share what we’ve seen in Colorado since legalization and a chance for these guys to start watching for it. Because a lot of these would impact public health and public safety, and the two are hand-in-hand on this issue,” said Dale Quigley, a deputy coordinator for the National Marijuana Initiative.
Quigley is a retired Colorado police officer who now travels the nation, talking about the impacts marijuana has had on his state. He hit home the number of vehicle collisions in states with recreational marijuana versus those without.
He said, “We saw that our rates in Colorado were 14% higher than the other states. Washington saw the same types of increases and so did Oregon.”
Colorado has also seen a huge increase in DUID’s, which is their version of a DUI, just involving drugs.
In Denver, those cases have doubled from 2013-2016. But the impacts aren’t strictly limited to what happens on the roads.
“The impact on the medical community, the amount of increased calls in emergency rooms for injestion issues with Marijuana, that was the thing that kind of stuck in my mind,” said Williams County Sheriff Verlan Kvande.
Specifically, the yearly number of marijuana hospitalizations increased 72% after the legalization of recreational marijuana. All of those factors combined has many North Dakota law enforcement agencies on their toes for when medical gets introduced into the state.
Kvande added, “You try to plan for those as best as you can, but until it comes in and we see what some of those issues are going to be, we just don’t know how to prepare for them exactly.”
But, he says discussions like these are a good start.
Law enforcement also deals with trafficking across state lines. Highway seizures of Colorado marijuana increased 43 percent since becoming recreationally legal.