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Pueblo County sheriff tracking data on marijuana use, crimes

Pueblo County sheriff tracking data on marijuana use, crimes

PUEBLO, Colo. - Sheriff Kirk Taylor is changing the way his office tracks data to see if there's a link between crimes and marijuana.

Taylor said his office is in the process of recoding its management system to capture that kind of data.

Out of the eight violent crimes committed in 2013 in Pueblo County, Taylor said one was directly related to an attempted homicide which involved marijuana. In 2014, about one out of three violent crimes committed was directly related to marijuana.

"One year doesn't make a trend," Taylor said.

But he points to the three high-profile arrests that have happened over the past week that have involved marijuana, directly or indirectly.

"What I'm seeing right now as the sheriff is there's more and more of these calls. Either they're related -- directly related or indirectly related to the use or existence of marijuana at these crime scenes," Taylor said.

Most recently, Rashad Muhammad, 26, was arrested on the Pueblo County Courthouse steps Friday morning by FBI agents, with the help of the Sheriff's Office Tactical (SWAT) Team. He was arrested on an outstanding warrant out of Florida for two counts of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

While on the way to jail, Muhammad told a sergeant, "I don't know what I did wrong. I just came to Colorado to relax and smoke lots of pot."

Earlier this week, Taggard Rieke, 26, was arrested for attempted homicide. He told deputies he smoked pot and drank before shooting at someone he thought he was in an argument with over marijuana. He faces several charges, including two counts of attempted second-degree murder.

Last week, deputies arrested Jacob Janke, 20, for attempted first-degree murder for trying to kill his roommate on the side of I-25. The victim, Austin Tanner, 18, told deputies Janke was smoking marijuana before he stabbed him.  

But Mason Tvert, director of communications for the marijuana policy project, said there's no correlation between marijuana use and violent crimes.

"There's been a mountain of research done on this and it's all concluded that marijuana does not contribute to violent and aggressive behavior. The studies are clear that alcohol is a major contributing factor in acts of violence," Tvert said.

"I can't sit here and I won't sit here and tell you there's a cause and effect," Taylor said. "You be the judge. You the public be the judge."

Tvert said law enforcement officers studying the cause and effect of marijuana use and crime might actually find an interesting trend.

"In fact, they find that it might actually inhibit that type of behavior," Tvert said.

 


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