Whether it is because of the country’s gradual shift in attitudes or the fact that legalization is occurring in states across the map, marijuana has been under the spotlight in recent years. There is certainly no shortage of discussion on the matter, as the drug has sparked both support and criticism nationwide. Most states that have legalized marijuana are in the western region of the country, yet many predict that this trend will spread in the near future. Nebraska’s laws may be strict, but will those laws last? 

The Ohama World-Herald reports on the recent increase in marijuana arrests in the state, and provides a number of explanations for this increase. One of the most apparent reasons could be that Nebraska’s neighboring state, Colorado, has legalized both medical and recreational marijuana. According to the World-Herald, many of the arrests took place in western Nebraska — right along the Colorado border. Researchers also point toward stricter law enforcement, especially along Interstate 80 and in western Nebraska. Yet these two factors could be linked, as the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s Nebraska Center for Justice Research plans to dig deeper into the state’s background and overall attitudes regarding the drug. 

When it comes to arrests, Nebraska law enforcement do not take the topic of marijuana lightly. Nebraska Educational Telecommunications points out that the penalty for possession of the drug depends largely on the county in which the arrest took place. According to NET, most of the county officials surveyed by the Nebraska State Legislature agreed that there have been significant problems relating to marijuana in the state, and 63 percent of those officials felt the impact marijuana has had on the state has been negative. Although lawmakers have reconsidered Nebraska’s penalties on marijuana possession, much of the outcome lies in the decisions of individual attorneys, and as of 2017, no laws in the state support the legalization of marijuana.