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Marijuana: Recreational pot shop near border miffs Nebraska cops

A Nebraska highway checkpoint.
A Nebraska highway checkpoint.

There's not much going on in the tiny northeast Colorado town of Sedgwick, which has a full-time population of about 150 people, a game preserve nearby and the South Platte River to play in from time to time -- when the water's up. Most people see the town in their rear-view mirror on their way to or from Nebraska if they ever see it at all. But that could change soon, as Sedgwick now has a major draw: It's the only town within a several-hours' drive to offer legal, recreational marijuana for sale.

But while the shop is fully legal under Colorado state law, Nebraska officials say it is a blatant attempt to profit from residents of their state looking to smuggle herb back home -- and yet another example of how Colorado's pot experiment is failing.

"He's probably going to be the busiest guy in Colorado," Deuel County [Nebraska] Sheriff Adam Hayward said of the nearby pot-shop owner in USA Today last week. "For people coming in from the east, he's basically cornering the market, cutting four hours off a trip because they don't have to go to Denver."

A screen capture showing Sheriff Adam Hayward.
A screen capture showing Sheriff Adam Hayward.

Nebraska cops have been up in arms over Colorado's law since residents passed Amendment 64 in November 2012. But they've become increasingly frustrated since recreational sales of cannabis began for adults 21 and up in Colorado in January and claim that their budgets are being worn thin by busting drivers carrying even the smallest amount of Colorado weed. The police seem to be bringing some of this on themselves, though, by apparently stopping just about anyone with Colorado plates for questionable offenses.

Michael Kollartis, owner of Sedgwick Alternative Relief, insists he's just trying to accommodate rural Coloradans and visitors on their way into the state and says he makes the situation clear to everyone who walks in his shop: If you leave Colorado with weed, odds are high that cops across the border are going to take it from you -- along with some of your freedom.

"Number one: Do not ask me for advice on how to take this out of this state," he says. "And number two: If you do, prepare to give up your firearms, give up your right to vote. I don't want to taint [my business] by coming across as some lowlife drug dealer. That's the complete opposite of what we want to do."

Ken Schilz.
Ken Schilz.

But that's not how some Nebraska officials choose to view it. Earlier this year, some of the state's lawmakers kicked around the idea of suing Colorado as well as demanding money from Colorado for Nebraska law enforcement. And Nebraska state senator Ken Schilz said recently that he might run a bill next year that would increase penalties for marijuana possession in that state.

For more pot news, visit our Marijuana archive.


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