Southern Colorado sheriffs react to change in marijuana policy - KOAA.com | Continuous News | Colorado Springs and Pueblo

Southern Colorado sheriffs react to change in marijuana policy

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The Justice Department has rolled back an Obama administration policy, allowing for the Drug Enforcement Administration and the justice department to once again focus on intervention and prosecution in states like Colorado, where retail marijuana sales are legal.

Bob Troyer, U.S. Attorney in Colorado says he will continue to follow guidelines in place right now from the State Attorney General's office, focused on prosecuting marijuana crimes that "create the greatest safety threats."

But as far as law enforcement agencies across southern Colorado are concerned, it's business as usual.

"It's not going to change business as we do it," Sheriff Jason Mikesell of Teller County said.

Sheriff Mikesell understands marijuana was something the people of Colorado asked for.

"We support the fact that a legal grow can have 12 marijuana plants," he said. "If you have over 12 marijuana plants, we are going to come for you if it's an illegal grow."

But legalization brought some unintended consequences.

"That black market exploded because now they don't have to come across the border with large amounts of marijuana, they can grow it semi legally and nothing was being enforced," he said.

He started the "Get out of Teller" campaign to crack down on illegal grows across Teller County.

Just this week, they busted a grow with ties to a drug cartel that was worth at least $178,000.

"We are not after legal growers in the state of Colorado that have the legal right to grow, we are after organizations that are bad people doing bad things," he said.

His views shared by Pueblo County Sheriff Kirk Taylor and El Paso County Sheriff Bill Elder who both told News 5 on Thursday, this doesn't effect what they do on a day to day basis.

"I don't see us having the resources or the energy to change what we're doing with the exception of marijuana grows and that was changing anyway," Sheriff Elder said.

Changing because, with the new year, the state's legal plant count dropped from 99 to 12, although some cities and counties have their own rules.

"That's allowing us, now to have a very definitive line that says if you cross it, we're coming for you," Sheriff Mikesell said.

As for the pot shops up in arms over this memo...

"I don't see that any federal prosecutions of marijuana establishments is going to take place, I'll be shocked," Sheriff Elder said.

And Sheriff Elder says, he believes Sessions' memo will lead to a smaller black market.

"I think the black market is driven by the ability of growers to export marijuana with relative ease and they know that the odds are that the feds won't prosecute," he said.

Colorado Springs Mayor Suthers says he believes Sessions will say we need to help fight this massive black market problem caused by state marijuana laws.

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