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Sheriff Smith Speaks out Against Amendment 64

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Department: Sheriff
Release Date: Oct 3, 2012

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Sheriff Justin Smith
Larimer County Sheriff's Office

Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith has announced his strong opposition to Colorado's Amendment 64 and joined a growing list of Sheriffs and other public officials in opposition to the proposed amendment which would give Colorado the most liberal marijuana laws anywhere in the world.

While as an elected County Sheriff, he recognizes that the day-to-day role for his office is to enforce the laws of the state, Sheriff Smith also believes he has an additional duty to speak out on issues of public safety and concern. He believes this proposed amendment would significantly degrade public safety and the quality of life throughout the state.

"It would be like taking the problems experienced with the introduction of medical marijuana dispensaries in local communities and multiplying them ten-fold" Smith said. Sheriff Smith cited the increase in marijuana related incidents experienced by his agency, the increase in drug related school suspensions, individual family accounts of marijuana dependency with area youth, robberies of grow operations and dispensaries and a sharp increase in the marijuana DUIs that have coincided with the state sanctioning of medical marijuana businesses in Colorado starting in 2009.
 
In addition, the Sheriff is concerned that the health related dangers the researchers at National Jewish Hospital identified in their report on marijuana grow houses constitutes a threat not only to building occupants, but landlords and surrounding neighbors as well. Based on that research, Sheriff's deputies now take the same safety precautions in grow houses as they do in meth labs and the Sheriff's Office is being forced to change marijuana evidence handling procedures to avoid the dangers associated with mold spores discovered on some of the test samples. "This research gives me good reason to be concerned for the health and safety of those who have the unfortunate circumstance to live near or come into contact with a grow operation." Smith stated.
 
Sheriff Smith refuted the assertion that marijuana laws are simply a state rights issue. "In Larimer County we have already seen a handful of cases where people migrate from other states to Colorado with the admitted intent of growing marijuana to sell back in their home state. That is clearly interstate commerce which is within the purview for the federal government to act." 
 
Smith also reminded proponents that other states are within their rights to charge "conspiracy to distribute marijuana" under their state's laws against those who grow in Colorado with plans to sell it or otherwise cause it to be distributed in other states. "If marijuana advocates think the legal system is confusing now, wait until they experience criminal indictments against Colorado residents issued by other states" Smith said. 
Sheriff Smith also recognized the detrimental financial impact experienced by landlords on many of these illegal grow operations, noting that several properties were left uninhabitable after the illegal grows were dismantled. 
 
"Our kids have too much promise and Colorado is a state with too much natural beauty and potential to let it become the pot capital of the world. It hasn't worked in Amsterdam, it hasn't worked in California and it won't work here. This isn't a partisan issue that divides the state, it's a common sense issue that should unite parents, families and communities to stand up for our future." the Sheriff stated.
 
Sheriff Smith concluded by saying “The out-of state financers of this risky proposal have tried to convince voters that we are paying to fill local jails with people charged with simple marijuana possession. That simply is not true. The last time I reviewed the records, we had less than a half a dozen out of almost 500 inmates who had marijuana possession charges and almost all of those had other charges or cases pending. Most of those charged with simple possession pay a fine and may serve their time doing community service projects. However, we can rest assured that if this state’s decriminalization amendment passes we will be paying - paying for unemployed persons with marijuana addiction, paying for more high school dropouts who can't find work and paying with more marijuana impaired drivers causing destruction on our roads. We don't need those problems and we especially don't need them at a time when local budgets are already strained."