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Are We at the Mercy of Our Neighbors?

A drug bust last month that nabbed a marijuana shipment from California to Onalaska. A traffic stop and follow up by officers led to the arrest of three on felony marijuana distribution charges, eventually nabbing 37 pounds of the drug, $1,600 in cash and weapons. The main seller is said to have been in business for at least a year, importing marijuana into the state at a profit of about a thousand dollars a pound.

With the recent legalization of marijuana in Colorado, we may now start seeing imports from there instead of the traditional route that comes from Mexico and through California. And, for smugglers, having a legal base of operations makes for a much shorter, and less risky, trip. It’s under a six-hour drive from Fort Collins, CO to Rapid City.

The prices mentioned in the Lacrosse Tribune were excessive. According to police, the main dealer was paying $3,000 a pound for his weed and flipping it for as little as $3,200 and as much as $4,000 a pound. With legalization for medical use in California, there was a huge price drop. Medium quality marijuana retails for about $100 an ounce ($1,600 a pound). The only way to justify a doubling of the price by the time it gets to South Dakota is to put it on shipping costs – the one factor that will fall when Colorado as a supplier gets rolling.

Washington state, where marijuana is also legal, is about the same distance as it is to California. Although Montana has legal marijuana for medical use, it doesn’t appear to be a net exporter like California is now and Colorado and Washington may soon become.

For police, this means even tighter controls on our highways – perhaps more drug dogs on duty and more frequent searches.

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