For months the debate over the legalization of marijuana has occupied national headlines. But a local police chief says there is a negative side effect because of all the attention.
Spencer Police Chief Virgil Green said there’s been a spike in marijuana cases. “Our officers have been proactive patrolling. It seems every other traffic stop we’re finding drugs on the person or in their cars.”
He says in the past month, the small department has made 32 arrests, 28 of them were drug related — mostly marijuana.
Chief Green showed bags of marijuana taken off the street — thousands of dollars worth.
Although the drug is not legal in Oklahoma in any form, law officers have said people are behaving like it is. Chief Green thinks because medical marijuana is legal in 20 other states, its confusing for some.
“You’ve got people who are feeling like hey it’s here, it’s okay, it doesn’t do anything to you and its legal everywhere else;” said Green. “Having people traveling from other states is also a factor.”
“Its an indication of the failed tactics of not just the war on drugs but specifically the war on marijuana,” said legalization advocate Mark Faulk with Reform OKC.
“He said the costly fight is unnecessary and not worth the tax payer money.” Faulk continues, “In 2012, we spent 30 million dollars to arrest and prosecute for simple possession marijuana.”
But 30 year Spencer residents Vonnie and Ricky Jones who aren’t far from where some of the drug arrests took place want to keep the drug out of their neighborhood.
“That just opens the door for people to commit more crimes,” said Ricky.
The couple believes all the attention is making people think the drug nicknamed, Mary Jane, is okay.
“America has gotten desensitized to a lot of things. I’m telling you when you took prayer out of the school, you just left it wide open. People just think its okay to smoke marijuana now” said Vonnie Jones.
The Chief Green also said not only is marijuana a gateway drug but it welcomes other crimes and most of the burglary cases in Spencer have to do with drug use.