By Greg Campbell
A Nebraska sheriff is going broke busting people who bring Colorado-legal marijuana and edible products over the border, and says Colorado should be footing the bill for the inmates in his overcrowded jail and the expense of prosecuting them.
Deuel County Sheriff Adam Hayward told Denver’s 7News that he had to increase the budget for his jail by $100,000 to accommodate all the law-breakers buying pot in Colorado, where it’s legal, and bringing it into Nebraska, where it’s not.
“In big counties where the population is huge, a hundred thousand dollar increase is probably isn’t that much, but when basically that comes from 1,800 people, that’s a big increase,” he said.
Hayward wants Colorado to foot the bill, saying that voters caused the problem when they legalized marijuana in 2012. Retail sales began in January. Adults can buy and consume marijuana in Colorado, but it’s illegal in all surrounding states and under federal law.
“[Colorado] should be paying for these people’s attorneys and their stays in jail, because essentially it’s a problem they created for us,” Hayward told the station.
“We have these people we arrest with felony charges, and then we have to pay for them to be in jail, we have to pay for their medical expenses while they’re in jail, and we have to usually pay for their public defenders,” he said. “Because even though they have money to buy weed, they don’t have any money to pay for an attorney and the county gets stuck paying all that.”
Colorado considered sharing some of its marijuana revenue with neighboring states for law enforcement purposes, albeit briefly. A bill on the matter died in the legislative session that ended in May. A spokesman for Gov. John Hickenlooper told 7News that any such expenditure would have to come from the legislature, not the governor’s office.
In the meantime, Hayward said he is stockpiling Colorado pot and a dispensary’s-worth of edible products in the evidence room. He’s also stockpiling criminals for smuggling it into Nebraska.
He told 7News that he and his three deputies won’t stop until his agency runs out of money.
“We’re fighting it so hard to keep it out of our county so we don’t end up with all of this in our school system, with our local people,” he said.