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Law-Enforcement Officials Warn Against Colorado Marijuana Trips

January 2, 2014, 9:55 PM by Kevin Woster

Law-Enforcement Officials Warn Against Colorado Marijuana Trips

Rapid City Police Chief Steve Allender has no doubt that some western South Dakota residents will be doing business with marijuana merchants in Colorado.

"Whether they drive to Colorado and buy it and use it there and then drive back or go there and buy it and bring it back, I assume both are going to happen because now it's legal to do that," Allender said.

It's not legal to do that in South Dakota, however, and Allender wishes there was more he could do to block the inflow of Colorado pot.

"If I had the authority, and I don't, I would set up border checks on the highways coming in from the Colorado-Wyoming area, to discourage it," Allender said. "It's being encouraged now. I think we need a fair amount of discouragement to level it back out."

Allender said checkpoints are a federal issue and unlikely to be used. But ongoing drug-law enforcement by a multi-agency task force in the area will be used. He and Pennington County Sheriff Kevin Thom warn of the potential consequences of indulging in a Colorado marijuana high.

"That stays in your system a long time, so if you're diving back to South Dakota and you're high on marijuana, that's a concern," Thom said. "If your employer does random drug testing, that should be a concern. Just because you can use it down there doesn't mean there aren't consequences back home."

Both Thom and Allender say their officers will be ready to react if drug use increases locally because of the new Colorado law.

The South Dakota Highway Patrol, meanwhile, will be watching for signs that drug traffic into South Dakota from the west and south is increasing because of sales in Colorado. For now, however, Capt. Kevin Karley in Rapid City says the already aggressive drug-law enforcement in western South Dakota will continue pretty much as is.

"I think in six to 12 months we'll probably be able to look at the data and decide if we need to change our drug interdiction," Karley said. "I really don't know what to expect. I think the possibility (of increases) exists."

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
A misspelling was corrected in this story.

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