Some wonder about impact of Colorado marijuana law on KC - KCTV5

Some wonder about impact of Colorado marijuana law on Kansas City metro

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JOHNSON COUNTY, KS (KCTV) -

Days after voters in Colorado passed a law legalizing the possession of marijuana, a lot of people are wondering what the change will mean in the Kansas City metro.

The Colorado law makes it legal for adults 21 years and older to possess up to an ounce of pot and people can grow up to six plants. It clears the way for retail stores in a state in which dispensaries for medical marijuana are already common.

But marijuana use remains against federal law. Even Colorado's Attorney General isn't sure how federal authorities will react to people coming in from out-of-state to buy marijuana.

"You know, there's no residency requirement under this regime. So people can come into Colorado and buy it, take it out of state and I'm just not sure how they're going to react to that," John Suthers said.

It's about 400 miles from Kansas City to the Colorado state line, so people - from law enforcement to those who support legalized marijuana - are interested in what happens now.

Three metro law enforcement agencies said it's a laughable idea that people will drive the 414 miles down Interstate 70 in that direction to buy pot legally.

What Colorado's law could do is starts serious conversation in other communities about legalizing the drug.

"Marijuana traditionally and continues to be the No. 1 drug that we see here in Johnson County, in almost every other community in the nation, and as our nation as a whole," said Tom Erickson with the Johnson County Sheriff's Department.

Colorado's new law is expected to have little effect on metro users, according to agencies like the Johnson County Sheriff's Department.

"In reality, a several hour trip out west to then transport it across state lines, bring it all the way back to Johnson County or the metro to consume it, to most people wouldn't make a lot of sense," Erickson said.

The new Colorado state law has Show-Me Cannabis, an organization in favor of legalizing weed, hopeful for a second attempt at a ballot initiative in Missouri.

"It's going to make it a legit conversation and, frankly, for a lot of people, there's going to be more of an approach. A reality-based approach," Amber Langston with Show-Me Cannabis said.

Langston said marijuana advocates were successful because they raised enough money for an effective campaign, but there is one factor missing in Missouri.

"We're not sure if we want to do something in 2014 or 2016 - that's going to depend on those monetary factors and volunteer factors, but I think we will see more people coming forward on this issue."

Langston said the group would need anywhere between $1 million and $2 million to run a serious campaign to legalize weed. The last go around, the group only raised $30,000.

Doctors said marijuana's side effects include hunger, lethargy and a person losing their inhibitions. The managing director at the University of Kansas Hospital's poison control center said the drug is not addictive, but users can become dependent on the feeling it causes.

"Are we going to see these people run into the emergency room using up medical dollars? No. I've never had a person die of a marijuana overdose. Never. Never will," Tama Sawyer said.

Last year Johnson County confiscated nearly 400 pounds of marijuana and Jackson County seized nearly 500 pounds.

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