More marijuana could cross state line to University of Idaho

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by Karen Zatkulak

NWCN.com

Posted on February 12, 2013 at 10:23 PM

Updated Monday, Nov 25 at 3:17 PM

MOSCOW -- KTVB is taking a hard look at how the University of Idaho is dealing with the possibility of a new challenge: more marijuana coming into Idaho.

Now, it's legal less than a mile away in Washington. So, how is Idaho protecting against the influx of the drug?

KTVB went to the Idaho-Washington border to find out.

Initiative 502 Passes:

For some, it seems hard to believe that recreational marijuana is now legal in the state of Washington.

If it's less than an ounce, and in the hands of someone over the age of 21, it's now allowed.

We talked to several people who live in Pullman, Washington, just a few miles from Idaho.

Britne and Derek wanted us only to use their first names. Both admit to smoking pot.

Britne says she was pleased when the law passed, "Kind of empowering to know that something so minuscule is finally nothing to be paranoid about anymore. It was a great feeling."

They're just two of many throughout the state of Washington who supported Initiative 502 becoming law.

The measure went into effect on December 6, legalizing recreational marijuana.

Cross Border Trafficking?

It's quickly turned into a concern for cross border trafficking into nearby Idaho.

Britne admits, "A lot of people are going to be willing to drive 10 minutes just to know that it is going to be more of a lax atmosphere."

Britne and Derek say many Idaho residents wanting marijuana are Idaho Vandals crossing into Washington, which is less than a mile from their campus.

Derek says, "I can definitely see U of I students coming over to get their marijuana over here and then trying to hide it in their cars when they drive back across that seven mile stretch."

We talked to several UI students who were honest about their use of marijuana.

They told us they haven't seen an increase in cross border trafficking, yet.

But, they admit, traveling a few miles for pot will be even more tempting, once the concern of getting caught wears off.

UI junior Armon Chargerson says, "I expect a lot of relaxation around everything. I expect a lot of people probably start heading over, and probably start worrying less."

University of Idaho's Response:

So, what's being done on the University of Idaho's campus to protect students from the illegal substance?

Moscow Police Lt. Dave Lehmitz admits they're expecting more drug arrests because of their proximity to legal marijuana.

He says, "You're eight miles away from a bordering town, bordering jurisdiction, and so the probability of that crossing over into our state, I think, is really high."

When we asked what they're doing protect against it, he said they're continuing their current campaigns with UI.

Lehmitz says, "I think the things we are doing already, the educational campaigns on our campus, involving controlled substances and educating our community that marijuana is still a controlled substance. It is still illegal."

Also, he tells us his department is talking with Washington law enforcement on the possibility of increased patrols along the highway in between the universities.

"We've all come together and sat at tables and discussed what are the potential outcomes of this," says Lehmitz. "How are we going to try to work together and police this issue?"

We took the same questions to UI's Dean of Students Bruce Pitman.

When we asked about specific plans for the university to fight this issue, he told us they simply don't know exactly how their campus will be impacted.

"This is one that is causing concern and causing us to wonder and in a sense also talk about our enforcement strategies," says Pitman.

Pittman added that parents should be warning students to make good decisions when it comes to controlled substances.

He says right now, many questions remain unanswered about legal marijuana so close, like where the drug will be sold in Washington and how those shops will operate.

But no matter which side of the border you're on, many say there's no doubt marijuana is now much easier to get.

"More U of I students are going to jump over, right over the border just to grab it," says Britne.

So the big question now in Washington is when will the retail market for marijuana be available.  We're told the system must be in place by December of this year.

The Washington State Liquor Control Board is in charge of regulating the growth, sale, and purchase of marijuana.

As for Washington State University, just over the border, because it's federally funded, marijuana is not allowed anywhere on campus.

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