Kansas Law enforcement officials agree, a new Colorado law legalizing recreational marijuana means the possibility of more seizures of the drug back home.
Many pot shops in Colorado will open at 8 a.m. on New Years and lines are expected to be long for those wanting to purchase the first legal recreational pot in the US. Colorado residents can buy up to an ounce of the drug at a retail shop and out-of-state are allowed a quarter of an ounce.
"We know tomorrow we're going to see people who are in Colorado and may just out of opportunity say, 'OK I can buy some of this and bring it back to Kansas," said Major Michael Oliver of the Sedgwick County Sheriff's Department. "We're just going to be dealing with it just as we have in the past. It is illegal in Kansas. The marijuana is going to be seized, we'll work with the District Attorney on charges and those kinds of things are probably going to increase."
His main message to Kansans is to remember that the drug is still illegal in the state, no matter how you purchased it.
"The penalties range from simple possession being a misdemeanor violation," he said. "If you have a precious record of marijuana possessions it could be a felony. Quantities of the drug are going to factor in sometimes as well."
Many Kansas agencies said they've seen an increase in marijuana seizures since Colorado allowed medical marijuana centers to open in 2010. The same goes for many other states in the US.
In a report by the El Paso Intelligence Center, it shows 92 seizures of Colorado marijuana in 2009 compared to 281 in 2010. Kansas had the highest number of seizures in 2012 with 37. And that only counts cases that were reported. The center said it's unknown how many Colorado marijuana loads went undetected or were not reported.
KBI said they've gotten thousands of reports of marijuana seized in the last few years. Of those jurisdictions who report to the KBI, there were a total of 8,426 cases where marijuana was seized in 2011 and 7,943 in 2012. Agencies who don't report to KBI include Topeka, Kansas City, KS, Overalnd Park, Olathe, Mission and Roeland Park. KBI said it's hard to know where each bag of marijuana originates.
"Marijuana is still one of the more common drugs we find out on the street," said Major Oliver. "Even with the medical marijuana available in Colorado we've seen some people who have come back from Kansas after purchasing in Colorado."