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Investigators: High-grade marijuana from Colorado and other states inundating Springfield


SPRINGFIELD, Missouri — Narcotics investigators in Springfield say the city is seeing an influx of higher-grade marijuana from states where the drug is legal, particularly Colorado.

Dan Banasik, a Missouri State Highway Patrol supervising sergeant for narcotics, said the more potent drug has driven up prices for the drug, the Springfield News-Leader (http://sgfnow.co/1NpAxYm ) reported. A few years ago, undercover narcotics officers could by a pound of marijuana from a dealer for about $1,000, but now that same undercover operation would cost about $6,000.

Banasik said the marijuana from Colorado is of a much higher quality than the pot that was most common a decade ago in Springfield. The drugs from Colorado have much higher levels of THC, the main active ingredient in marijuana, which means that it doesn't take much to use the drug to achieve a stronger effect.

Marijuana is legal for medical purposes in several states across the U.S. to help with patients in dealing with pain and nausea, but there isn't comprehensive research yet on how the higher-grade marijuana affects people over a long period of time, according to chemistry professor Mark Wood at Drury University.

Authorities are seizing more marijuana being transported across Missouri roads, said Sgt. Shawn Griggs with the state highway patrol's division of drug and crime control. In 2013, the patrol seized about 1,071 pounds of marijuana. That number increased to about 1,700 pounds in 2014. The patrol already has seized more than 1,000 pounds halfway through this year.

Griggs couldn't say how much of that marijuana came from Colorado. But Griggs noted though that the patrol has also seen a huge increase in marijuana-infused food products, known as edibles.

Local authorities have filed charges in at least five cases since January 2014 of people transporting marijuana into Springfield from either Colorado or California.

Information from: Springfield News-Leader, http://www.news-leader.com

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