Jul 23, 2013 8:58 PM by Andy Koen
At least three and a half tons of medical marijuana grown in Colorado was seized law enforcement agencies in other states last year.
Tom Gorman, executive director of the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (RMHIDTA), says the quantity of black market marijuana seized by law enforcement that originated in Colorado has grown by 400 percent since the state moved from a caregiver model to licensing dispensaries and grow operations in 2010.
"It has absolutely skyrocketed," Gorman said.
The RMHIDTA is made up of local, state and federal law enforcement officers from Colorado, Wyoming, Utah and Montana. The group asked state troopers and postal inspectors across the country to voluntarily contact them after drug busts involving marijuana grown in our state.
During a three week study published last summer; the RMHIDTA was able to track 70 cases in which marijuana arrests involved individuals transporting the drug out of Colorado.
In one such case, troopers with the Kansas Highway Patrol stopped a car headed to St. Louis carrying 10 pounds of marijuana. The driver told the troopers he bought the drug "out of the back door of a Colorado Dispensary."
Gorman says the strains of pot grown here have a higher street value in states where the drug is illegal.
"Most of it goes back east, to the Mid-west and back east, and it sells for a higher price back there," he said.
Marijuana supporters say their industry shouldn't be blamed for a individuals who deliberately broke the law.
"If individuals from out of state take it out of state, they are breaking the law and should be prosecuted to the fullest extent," said KC Stark owner of the marijuana club Studio A64.
He says many marijuana grows carefully track their plants in house to ensure proper quality controls.
"If there is tainted marijuana that might have an effect just like tainted milk, you can do a recall," Stark explained.
However, the state body regulating marijuana currently has no way to track the number of plants grown or harvested here. The Colorado Department of Revenue's Marijuana Enforcement Division was forced to shelve a contract with a Florida computer company to use radio-frequency identification to track marijuana products because of cost overruns.
A state working group met on Monday this week to discuss some proposed rules for the new recreational marijuana industry created by Amendment 64. They plan to revive the contract for RF-id tracking.
Meanwhile, Gorman expect more marijuana to leak across state borders as cities and counties begin to license new grow operations.
"You've got to remember that in most cases a business is in business to make money," Gorman said. "You make money buy selling more product and having more customers."