A Colorado law adopted back in 2010 has put a burden on Wyoming law enforcement and now the state is gearing up for an even bigger ballot issue in November.
Medical marijuana is a growing industry in Colorado. "There's 75 Starbucks in the city of Denver and there's over 300 dispensaries," said Sgt. Jim Gerhardt, North Metro Task Force. "We are now estimated four marijuana grow operations per week. A few years ago we didn't see two or three a year."
Now the drug is coming to a city near you. "Individuals are traveling to dispensaries to purchase marijuana in large quantities and they are driving it back to our local communities," said Kebin Haller, Deputy Director of Wyoming DCI.
Wyoming law enforcement agents say they are seeing it time and time again.
"We had the one that was buying directly from a dispensary and going back to Sheridan and selling it," said Tom Gorman, director of Rocky Mountain HIDTA (High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area). "We had another one, a couple that was buying from someone who would buy it from the dispensary, then drive it back to Wyoming and sell it."
"And we have had cases involving the cultivation or growing of marijuana, indoors in Wyoming, for the specific purpose of traveling to Colorado to sell the marijuana to dispensaries," said Haller.
And those agents say it's because of one thing. "They readily admitted it was for the money," said Haller.
"Marijuana like any other drug is highly profitable, and anything that's going to carry a lot of money potential is on some level going to be a lightning rod for crime and for violence," said Gerhardt.
But at what cost for Wyoming?
"Colorado will be a "source country" for Wyoming, you don't have to get it in Mexico," said Gorman. "If it were legalized in Colorado and you were a cartel member, would you keep going to Mexico? Or would you get a couple people to front for you because it's unlimited amount of grow. So you could grow thousands and thousands of plants and source it out from Colorado. It would be a lot easier for them to do. And anytime they smell money, that's where they are going to go."
Sgt Gerhardt says they've seen an influx of drugs on the street since medical marijuana was legalized two years ago.
"They've allowed a mechanism for more marijuana to be on the streets than ever before," said Gerhardt. "So we're seeing a lot more kids using , we're seeing a lot more incidents in schools, we're seeing more drivers under the influence on the street."
According to the Wyoming DCI Office, 65 investigations have been directly linked back to Colorado marijuana dispensaries since the state legalized medical marijuana.
A ballot issue this November will ask Colorado residents to fully legalize the drug for those 21 years of age and older.