Tourism Tip of the Day: Don't Buy 21 Pot Plants in a Restaurant Parking Lot

Many law-enforcement agencies in Colorado take the hard-assed approach when it comes to public commentary about the state's marijuana laws.

In contrast, a recent Facebook post shared by the Elbert County Sheriff's Office in regard to a pot bust this past week is comparatively lighthearted.

Witness the tongue-in-cheek headline placed atop the blurb, signed by Sheriff Shayne Heap: "Tourism Tip of the Day."

But the bottom line — a warning to out-of-staters that violating Colorado's cannabis statutes can lead to jail time — is no joke.

At 12:47 p.m. on May 5, according to the ECSO, "an Elbert County traffic Sergeant stopped a vehicle on Highway 86 driven by a Mr. Garcia, who was 'visiting' from Dallas, Texas.

"When the Sergeant asked about the cargo in the vehicle, the driver advised he just paid cash for 21 marijuana plants in a restaurant parking lot."

At this point in the narrative, most police organizations would detail the arrest of "Mr. Garcia" and the charges against him.

Instead, the Elbert County item rolls into a testimonial about our state's attributes, as exemplified by this photo accompanying the post.

"Colorado is known for its geographic diversity, with snow-covered mountains, arid desert lands and river canyons," the account continues. "Opportunities for outdoor recreation include kayaking the Colorado River, hiking the nearly 500-mile Colorado Trail and skiing at resorts such as Steamboat Springs, Breckenridge and Vail. Perched a mile above sea level, Denver, Colorado’s capital and largest city, features a vibrant downtown area.

"We encourage you to visit our beautiful state and take advantage of all that Mother Nature has to offer. We have 300 days of sunshine a year and know that you will thoroughly enjoy your visit."

Expecting a "however" about now? Sheriff Heap doesn't disappoint.

"However, if you choose to purchase 21 marijuana plants in a restaurant parking lot, the criminal penalties resulting in felony charges will make the visit a negative one to say the least. Although the deputies will provide three meals a day, your room has no view and there are no amenities."

The following photo illustrates this point:

Sheriff Heap signs off with this: "Safe travels."

The first response garnered by the post doesn't salute Heap for his hilarity.

"Well, the streets of Dallas are much safer now that they don't have to worry about the zero additional overdoses from marijuana this would've caused," the reply begins. "As for Mr Garcia, what a stupid decision. About as stupid as wasting the amount of taxpayer dollars criminalizing people for a plant, but hey, the law is the law and dem der good ol boys need sumtin to keep dem busy, not a whole lotta Dunkin Donuts in Elbert County. Lol."

Most of the other Facebook comments are more positive, though. This one serves as an example: "Thanks for keeping our county safe and a great place to live! Would hate to think of the horrible people and the higher crime rates if you all turned the other cheek like the first guy suggested! Job well done!"

Heap's effusive praise for Colorado is pretty impressive, too — although we've got bad news for him about that 300-days-of-sunshine claim....

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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