Has crime increased due to legal marijuana business? - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Has crime increased due to legal marijuana business?

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SPOKANE, Wash. - Has crime increased due to the legal marijuana business?

Before recreational marijuana sales went legal in Washington there were concerns about crime potentially increasing. "Because of the connection between cartels and violent crime, some assumed that would bleed over." Jeremy Wissing says. 

Wissing is an officer lieutenant with the Washington State Liquor Control Board. Wissing handles enforcement at 140 marijuana producer and processing business in Eastern Washington. 

"There was a concern violent crime would cross over but I think we have done a pretty good job setting up a safe system and I have just not seen that happen." Wissing says. 

Washington's marijuana sales went legal in early July of 2014. Since then the state has sold nearly 90 million dollars in legal marijuana."There was uncertainty, but fortunately none of those worse case scenarios have panned out." Wissing says. 

He did not have hard numbers available, but pointed out one major break in where thieves stole 50,000 dollars worth of marijuana from a Seattle shop in August of last year. "We have had some administrative penalties which is kind of the nature of it. All in all it has been a successful roll out."

But beyond the businesses there are hard numbers that Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich says are telling a story. 

Since 2012 (The year I-502 became law) marijuana DUI numbers have increased every year in Spokane Valley. In 2012, 17 marijuana DUI arrests were made. That number more than doubled to 43 in 2013. Then in 2014, 48 arrests were made between January 1st and November 7th. 

"It tells me that we have a lot of stoned drivers out there," Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich says. The Spokane Valley Police Department is run by the sheriff's office. Sheriff Knezovich says it keeps DUI numbers because it still has a traffic unit. Unincorporated parts of the county does not. "That is one area I would like to see us re-focus on, the unincorporated areas and be able to re build our traffic unit."

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