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Legal weed and the future of drug interdiction

If you are a narcotics officer or a drug interdiction officer — like me — this may have started affecting you already

If someone had told you 20 years ago that marijuana would be legal anywhere in the United States, you might have busted out laughing at them and told them they were crazy. I would have.

If someone would have told me, “Twenty years from now, possession and distribution of marijuana will still be a federal crime, but state governments are going to completely ignore those laws, effectively laughing in the face of the judicial system,” I would probably would have told them they were crazy.

Imagine what you might have said if someone predicted, “In 20 years, we’ll have a president who tells federal law enforcement that they aren’t going to enforce federal drug laws.”

Legal Weed and Drug Interdiction
Well, guess what? All those things are happening today! Whether or not you agree with it, this is the change we’re dealing with in law enforcement. If you are a narcotics officer or a drug interdiction officer (like me) this may have started affecting you.

Our first thought may be: Well, so much for highway drug interdiction — we are not going to need it or be able to enforce it, so it is just going to go away.

Let’s tap the brakes and discuss this theory.

Just because marijuana is becoming legal in more places (Washington and Colorado), we still have federal laws in place. Certain quantities can still be prosecuted under federal law if you can convince the U.S. Attorney to take the case.

Second, interdiction arrests could possibly increase from state to state because people are traveling to these states to purchase marijuana legally, then returning to their home state when they are stopped and arrested.

Plenty of Enforcement Left to Do
Just because the legal quantity to be purchased is regulated, don’t fool yourself into believing that there aren’t some backdoor deals being done in these states for more than is allowed. Trying to regulate marijuana will be much like trying to regulate any other substance — you will have people who comply with the law and others who will laugh at it.

I’m pretty sure that Anheuser-Busch follows all the federal laws of manufacturing and distributing of its Budweiser beer. I’m also pretty sure that there is a huge underground market for homemade moonshine and whiskey too.

Laws won’t stop the flow of illegal narcotics into this country. Interdiction officers will still pop loads of cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin, pills and yes, even marijuana.

The only difference in the future will be that instead of arresting the mule for possession of 300 pounds of marijuana, you’ll arrest them for possession of 300 pounds of untaxed marijuana.

If drug cartels haven’t been paying taxes in the past, why would they pay tax now?

What stance do you take? Are you a diehard cop who can’t fathom marijuana being legal in any form or quantity, or are you a cop who says legalize all of it completely?

Either way, now is your time to sound off on the argument. Oh, and if you are on this forum and you are not a law enforcement officer, please don’t pretend to be, because we can see right through that stuff.

Stay safe.

Lt. Hawkes is a 23-year police veteran. In addition to his years of highway drug interdiction, Lt. Hawkes has worked in patrol, K9, investigations, narcotics, and administration. He holds a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Dallas Baptist University and is a graduate of the Law Enforcement Management Institute of Texas. He is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Justice Leadership and Administration from the University of Texas at Dallas. He has been the recipient of both State and Local awards, including the Medal of Valor. His book, Secrets of Successful Highway Interdiction, which can be purchased here, contains eleven chapters on Highway Drug Interdiction.