Welcome to Colorado, where the law welcomes illicit drugs. We might next erect state border signs that say, “Give us your dealers, your cartels, Your huddled drug mules yearning to roam free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.”
Assessing the regulatory landscape, one reasonably concludes we want more drug dealers and drugs.
• Voters last month made Denver the first and only city in North America to decriminalize hallucinogenic mushrooms. That decision came seven years after voters made Colorado the only state in the union — still — to encourage a brazenly commercialized recreational marijuana industry with a constitutional amendment.
• The Colorado Supreme Court ruled 4-3 May 20 to restrict the conventional use of drug-sniffing dogs to detect illegal drugs in vehicles. The majority decided drug odors wafting from cars or trucks and into public airspace somehow deserve Fourth Amendment protection intended for private property. Now police must have probable cause for a warrant before using a drug dog, eliminating a traditional and essential tool in stopping the trafficking of drugs into Colorado.
• House Bill 1124, signed into law by Gov. Jared Polis May 28, prohibits Colorado law enforcement from detaining any individual, for any amount of time, to cooperate with the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. ICE officials call the law “dangerous.” In a statement, the ICE said “criminals will now be returned to the streets throughout Colorado. This is an irresponsible law that will undoubtedly have tragic future consequences at the expense of innocent citizens, lawful residents and visitors.”
The agency said Polis and the Colorado Legislature violate “their own primary mission of protecting the public.”
The anti-ICE law means state and local cops have one less option for ridding Colorado of suspects linked with illegal drug cartels. And, yes, the problem is huge, growing and seemingly intractable. Dave Condit, deputy forest and grassland supervisor for the Pike-San Isabel Forest and Cimarron-Comanche National Grasslands, told The Gazette last year his jurisdiction’s entire budget could not cover the costs of removing foreign drug cartels invading the public lands he oversees.
Federal drug agents have shown Condit the problem by helicopter, hovering over enormous pot plantations protected by armed guards with military-style rifles. The plantations contain buildings, living quarters, and massive supplies of food for workers.
Teller County Sheriff Jason Mikesell is scrambling to work around the anti-ICE law with special training that might allow officers to interrogate suspected illegal immigrants held at the county jail on criminal charges.
“He hopes this initiative with federal authorities, known as the 287(g) program, will help his agency stamp out marijuana cartels run by undocumented immigrants,” explains a Gazette news story by Rachel Riley.
For drug dealers all over the world, the message is clear: Colorado welcomes recreational drug use, production, transportation and sales. The state increasingly ties the hands of federal, state, and local law enforcement trying to curtail drug crimes and the problems they cause.
As drug mayhem takes an insidious long-term toll on Colorado, don’t expect cops to be of much help. They can’t. Voters, judges and politicians sold them out. They welcomed the wretched refuse of drug profiteers whom other states and countries will gladly send our way.