Law enforcement tries to stay one step ahead of dispensaries
The topic of medical marijuana has come to the forefront for law enforcement, Mesa County Sheriff Stan Hilkey said.
The law becomes tricky when people who are on probation or parole and are barred from using drugs get medical marijuana cards. Medical marijuana will not be allowed for anyone at the county’s Alternative Sentencing Unit, where inmates carry out community-based sentences.
Hilkey said law enforcement is keeping its ear to the ground about abuses at the medical marijuana dispensaries, but has not acted on any of that information.
“We’re in the business of gathering intelligence,” Hilkey said. “There’s a lot more going on there with people getting medical marijuana cards than you think.”
Hilkey said law enforcement is aware that dispensaries may be stockpiling more than allowed by law. From reports he’s heard, medical marijuana patients are being charged exorbitant amounts for the drug. He also said fraud occurs because people who obtain medical marijuana cards from physicians and dispensaries are out to turn a quick buck.
Since 2001, the Department of Public Health and Environment has received more than 13,000 patient applications, and now more than 400 applications pour in daily.
Hilkey said the uptick in dispensaries has created a noticeable increase in the amount of medical marijuana, and that brings some other side effects.
“For whatever reason, (people) think having a medical marijuana card gives them the right to drive while they’re high,” he said.
More large illegal marijuana growing operations are being discovered around the state by law enforcement, which might be because of an increase in demand for medical marijuana.
“You don’t get to be drug dealers under the guise of selling medical marijuana,” Hilkey said.
“We’re listening, and we’re going to watch. If they’re doing it legally, there’s nothing to worry about.”