Some residents worried about possible Oregon pot legalization
FRUITLAND, Idaho (KBOI) - Oregon residents will decide whether to make recreational pot legal on the November ballot. People who live in Fruitland say they're worried about recreational marijuana being legalized right next door in Oregon.
"It means that they'll try to bring the drugs over our way and make trouble for Fruitland," said Karen Walker, who lives in Fruitland.
"It causes impairment," said Roger Hopkins, another Fruitland resident. "I think we'd see an increase in accidents."
Idaho State Police says Walker and Hopkins are both right. Since medicinal and recreational pot has been legalized in other nearby states, Idaho has seen a large increase in felony drug trafficking charges and people driving under the influence of marijuana.
Just last year, ISP caught 600 pounds more weed coming over the Idaho border than it saw in 2012.
"And that's just in stuff that's reportable over one pound," adds Trooper Matt Wernsing. "Anything under that isn't reported, but we've been taking that off as well."
State police expect they'll see another large increase if marijuana is okayed for recreational use in Oregon. But they've ramped up drug patrol training over the past couple of years to be prepared. Special officers out on the road look just as closely for trafficking as traffic violations.
"They're actually looking at the behavior of people involved in trafficking," Wernsing said. "For the trained eye, it's actually something that's pretty distinct. As state police, we work primarily on highways and especially on the interstate where people are coming through. So whatever is coming through, it's still illegal in Idaho, and we're still going to take it off the streets."
ISP says its drug patrols won't change any if recreational pot is legalized in Oregon. It says its current enforcement plan is enough to handle a second bordering state okaying legal weed.