Missouri marijuana legalization impacts counties at state line

Published: Nov. 10, 2022 at 7:50 PM CST
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MISSISSIPPI COUNTY, Ark. (KAIT) - Those in the Natural State are going to be tempted to go over the state line for a smoke, but law enforcement is saying to be patient.

On Tuesday, Nov. 8, Missourians took to the polls and passed Amendment 3 during midterm elections.

This legalized recreational marijuana in the state, but now issues at the state line separating Arkansas and Missouri worry law enforcement.

“Myriad of issues that are going to plague our society,” said Mississippi County Sheriff Dale Cook.

After the implementation of Amendment 3 residents in Missouri, 21 and up will be able to purchase Marijuana for recreational use.

Across the state line, in Arkansas, the push to make marijuana legal for recreational use failed during midterms.

With recreational marijuana still illegal in Arkansas, Cook said it could mean trouble.

“I think it is going to cause us problems those people coming back and forth across the line,” he said.

The biggest issue Cook noted was impaired driving.

He said that is an issue he is worried he doesn’t have enough answers to know how to proceed if someone is pulled over and seems to be high.

“So, there are no clear-cut testing procedures yet to evaluate like it is in a DWI in alcohol with percentages,” Cook said.

Right now, on his force, there is only one person that could actually determine if a driver is under the influence of marijuana. That person was trained as a Drug Recognition Expert at the state academy.

“I don’t know how many have been trained across the state, but I have one here in Mississippi County,” Cook said. “That’s all I have and he can’t work a 24-hour shift testing people.”

But with the new changes in Missouri, that may not be enough.

“There are too many unanswered questions on how to deal with those folks,” Cook said.

Although there are a lot of unanswered questions, he said he plans to speak with sheriffs in Missouri to get a grasp of what issues they may have near the state line.

Cook said he hopes lawmakers will come down during the next legislative session that makes it clearer how to properly test someone who is driving under the influence of marijuana and convict that person in court.