North Idaho authorities concerned about Washington marijuana law | News
Washington's new marijuana law is raising eyebrows nationwide and causing concern across the border with law enforcement officers in Idaho.
The law legalizes recreational pot use and sets up state-licensed growers and distributors. Across the border the Kootenai County Sheriff's Department said they'll have to step up their game to crack down on marijuana and a law that will bring in revenue for Washington could end up costing Kootenai County.
"I think we will see a lot more possession cases. I think unfortunately we will see a lot of under the influence cases," Kootenai County Sheriff's Lieutenant Stu Miller said.
video Kootenai County deputies deal with around five marijuana cases a week. Lt. Miller predicts it could double when the new Washington law kicks into action. .
"We have a responsibility to protect our community. In our community it's against the law to have marijuana. We are going to have to step up our efforts to make sure we are protecting those folks, making sure their voices are still heard," Miller said.
Law enforcement classifies marijuana as a gateway drug, and worries addiction could spike and lead to harder drug use. It's possible the new law could put a little more pressure on an already crowded jail and that more manpower will be needed to handle any spike in crime.
"Our deputies will have to take more time away from finding people on the streets, more incidents of fights because of drug based burglaries, thefts," Miller explained.
Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich said Initiative 502 could cause problems at the border.
"When outside the state people start coming here to buy marijuana what happens, who's going to enforce that if they take it across state lines? That's going to be a federal issue. Then you will have a federal versus state issue," Knezovich said..
Now it's a waiting game to see how this will actually impact Idaho. Washington state officials have a little more than year to license farmers and retail stores to distribute pot to the public. That gives law enforcement officials in Idaho time to figure out how they're going to respond.
"We are going to be doing some planning in that year to figure out if there is anything extra we need to do," Lt. Miller said.