As marijuana has become more accessible in states where it’s legal, the drug has exploded in popularity in neighboring states where it remains illegal, a Drug Enforcement Agency agent said Thursday.
Law enforcement officials are finding that the typical profile of a marijuana dealer has changed, and quantities of the drug found with a dealer can be much smaller because it’s easier and cheaper to acquire.
“Growing up, you could pick out a drug dealer by looking at them — the way they act, dress and on the street corner,” said Richard Salter Jr., special agent in charge for the Omaha DEA division, which spans five states. “Now, it could be your grandmother. It’s doctors, it’s lawyers, it’s professionals, school teachers, like we see on the news. It’s anybody.”
News that a Dundee Elementary school teacher had been charged with possession of marijuana with intent to deliver may have shocked people, but Salter said that’s not out of the ordinary.
Omaha police officers found nearly one-third of a pound of marijuana in various bags, several pipes, rolling papers, and 30 grams of psilocybin mushrooms in Mary M. Duffy and her partner’s Aksarben home.
Duffy has been placed on administrative leave by Omaha Public Schools while an investigation is ongoing.
Salter said the United States is “saturated” with marijuana that’s mostly produced in the country. It’s no longer the case that large quantities of marijuana are transported to the U.S. from Mexico, he said.
Federal officials are targeting dealers, not people using the drug for personal use, and look for larger quantities or evidence that a person is dealing the drug, like scales and baggies.
Possession of psychedelic mushrooms is rare today, Salter said, because it’s a highly hallucinogenic drug. It can be purchased online and is usually found in busts with other drugs, like heroin, cocaine and meth.
In the Omaha division’s region, which includes Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota, the amount of meth has skyrocketed as prices have decreased, Salter said.
But the bottom line, he said, is that marijuana is found in nearly every bust by agents.
“Marijuana is still the No. 1 gateway drug,” Salter said. “Heroin, meth and cocaine addicts, they all have one thing in common. They started with marijuana.”