Colorado cop talks legal weed at police conference in Indianapolis

Posted at 11:48 PM, Aug 01, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-01 23:48:40-04

INDIANAPOLIS -- A police conference in Indianapolis heard from an unusual speaker this week: a police chief in favor of legal marijuana.

Police Chief Marco Vasquez spoke Monday at the National Association of Women Law Enforcement Executives conference in Indianapolis. He was there to talk about weed.

"What you talk about there is, you partner with your community to solve problems of concern to both a police agency and your community, and that's what you’re dealing with in marijuana," Vasquez said.

Vasquez is from Erie, Colorado, a small town outside of Denver. Before he was chief there, he was in charge of investigations f or the Colorado Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division.

"Quite frankly, we didn't know when this first started. Even know there's a lot we don't know, and we're trying to sort our way through what are some of the issues, and how we're going to deal with those issues," Vasquez said.

In his four decades as a cop in Colorado – a state with one of the nation's first medical and recreational marijuana laws – he's been a guinea pig for how police deal with marijuana issues.

"I absolutely recognize that just putting people in jail for marijuana possession and use is likely not going to solve this problem," Vasquez said. "A lot of people are going to use marijuana, whether it is legal or not."

Those in attendance at the conference said it's an issue they expect Indiana to face sooner or later.

"You read about articles, and you think you know what is going on in other states that have legalized marijuana, but to actually have someone here in Indianapolis to tell us what their firsthand experience is is very vital," said Plainfield Police Captain Jill Lees.

Recent attempts to pass a medical or recreational marijuana law in Indiana haven't found much success – although all surrounding states now have at least some version of their own law on the books.