Iowa sheriff expects increase in marijuana possession, impaired driving arrests after Minnesota legalizes adult use

Published: May. 25, 2023 at 5:12 PM CDT
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SIBLEY, IA (KTIV) - With recreational marijuana poised to become a reality in Minnesota, one Iowa sheriff is worried about the workload and expenses his office will incur.

Lawmakers in Minnesota recently passed a bill allowing for adult use recreational marijuana. Even back in 2014, when Colorado did the same, Osceola County saw a spike in marijuana-related crimes.

Back then, the sheriff says, it was easy to spot an out-of-state license plate from Colorado. But Minnesota plates are an everyday occurrence in Osceola County.

“I think the impact is going to be we’re probably going to get a few more possession charges of marijuana possession. And I’m assuming probably that the Impaired driving is going to go up also,” said Wollmuth.

The sheriff says he plans to hire new drug recognition experts or send his current deputies to a school to learn the skill. With the Minnesota bill expected to become law, the sheriff does expect another uptick in marijuana-related crime.

“We don’t really have a basic amount that they’re going to charge you with it,” said Wollmuth. “Yeah, it’s just it’s kind of up to their discretion.”

Right now, the nearest dispensary in Minnesota is located in Mankato, roughly two hours away. Though the sheriff says the Highway 60 corridor has been contributing to the flow of drugs.

Only medical marijuana is allowed in Minnesota at this time, and recreational marijuana won’t be available until a new state agency to regulate the process is set up.

While Osceola County will lose the out-of-state license plate indicator, the sheriff says deputies can administer the same field sobriety tests as they do when they pull someone over for drunk driving.