Colorado Cop to Nebraska Lawmakers: Pot Should Be Illegal in Our State Again

Last week, in a post that explored how likely people are to get caught if they send marijuana through the U.S. mail, we noted that anti-cannabis law-enforcement officials who no longer get as much attention as they once did in Colorado are finding eager audiences in other states.

A case in point: Thornton Sergeant James Gerhardt, who heads the Colorado Drug Investigators Association, was recently the main attraction at a gathering of Nebraska lawmakers and anti-cannabis types that received significant coverage in the state's media.

Among his messages: Marijuana has hurt Colorado, which should turn back the clock and make the substance illegal again.

The CDIA's online presence isn't exactly robust. The organization's website is out-of-date — its main item invites folks to attend the 13th Annual CDIA Training Summit, which took place in September — and its Facebook page has a grand total of 74 likes at this writing.

However, Gerhardt appears to have been treated like a visiting celebrity in Lincoln, Nebraska, where he spoke at the behest of Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson and state senator Matt Williams for what WOWT-TV notes was an invitation-only presentation. Supporters of medical marijuana who wanted to attend were kept at bay, much to their chagrin, supposedly because there wasn't enough room for them, the station reports.

Fortunately, the space was able to accommodate personnel from WOWT, as well as KETV and the Omaha World-Herald, among other outlets.

There, reporters heard Gerhardt make a number of claims about marijuana.

For one thing, he insisted promises that cannabis legalization would squelch the black market in pot and allow police to concentrate on more serious crimes has not come to pass. “Our resources are not being freed up,” the World-Herald quotes him as saying. “They’re absolutely being consumed by marijuana investigations.”

He also shared stats from reports issued by the anti-marijuana Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area — an organization also sourced by ABC7 in Chicago for the aforementioned mailing-marijuana item. Among the claims: drug-related school suspensions went up approximately 40 percent in Colorado between 2008 and 2013.

KETV also shares Gerhardt's view that medical marijuana legalization — something Nebraska is considering, despite the opposition of AG Peterson — is a precursor to recreational sales and problems connected with it, including "increases in traffic fatalities and child abuse related to the drug."

And then there's his assertion that, as WOWT reports, "11 percent of Colorado kids ages 12-17 are now considered marijuana users."

Doomy numbers like these have been characterized as typical reefer-madness scare tactics by progressive cannabis activists in Colorado, and the RMHIDTA acknowledges that its various studies aren't scientific. But judging by the coverage of Gerhardt's visit, such questions weren't asked by attendees of his talk, during which he actively rooted for Nebraska's 2014 lawsuit against Colorado's Amendment 64 to succeed, thereby ushering in a return to the days when marijuana was illegal in Colorado, too.

Then again, he was preaching to the choir. Here's a look at the WOWT-TV report about his address.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts