Pubdate: Sun, 15 Feb 2015
Source: Columbus Dispatch (OH)
Copyright: 2015 The Columbus Dispatch
Author: Rob Hotakainen, McClatchy Newspapers


WASHINGTON - When Colorado and Washington won permission from the 
U.S. Justice Department to begin selling marijuana in retail stores, 
the states promised to keep the drug inside their borders and away 
from children.

It has not been easy for them to do so.

Even before Colorado opened its recreational pot shops last year, 
when only the sale of medical marijuana was legal, the state had a 
reputation as a top pot exporter.

In 2013, 40 states intercepted marijuana that came from Colorado, 
with Missouri ranked first in the number of cases, followed by Texas, 
Illinois, Oklahoma and Kansas, according to the Rocky Mountain High 
Intensity Drug Trafficking Area program. While no final count has 
been released for 2014, there's been no stop in the seizures.

In Washington, Michael Botticelli, who was confirmed last week as the 
director of national drug control policy, told the Senate Judiciary 
Committee last week that an increase in cross-border trafficking of 
pot is now a "serious concern," and that he wants to fight it.

In Seattle, the Washington Poison Center said last month that 
marijuana-related exposures rose 56 percent to 246 in 2014. Teenagers 
were involved in the most incidents, followed by children younger 
than 12. They got sick from products such as marijuana-infused 
chocolate bars, brownies and gummy bears. Many of those came from the 
state's unregulated medical dispensaries, since the recreational 
shops, which opened last summer, cannot sell items that appeal to children.

With Colorado reporting a similar increase in pot-related poison 
calls last year, critics say it's clear that both states are doing a 
poor job controlling marijuana.

"The elephant in the room that hardly anyone wants to acknowledge is 
that Washington and Colorado are not implementing legalization 
particularly well," said Kevin Sabet, president of the 
anti-legalization group Smart Approaches to Marijuana. "Marijuana is 
pouring over to border states, despite campaign promises to the 
contrary. Calls to poison centers are up, and the big marijuana 
corporate lobby is as strong as ever."

Before Washington state opened its first pot stores last July, 
Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee promised "an all-hands-on-deck effort" to 
keep marijuana out of the hands of minors.

Colorado is taking most of the criticism, partly because it has a 
longer history of sales. Colorado got a six-month jump on Washington 
state, opening its first retail stores on Jan. 1, 2014.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom