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ELKO – The Elko County Sheriff’s Department has seen a slight drop in the number of marijuana arrests but is still dealing with a similar number involving marijuana users under the age of 21.

Sheriff’s deputies were not making many marijuana possession arrests to begin with, as the department only made 21 in the sixth months before legalized recreational use.

All of the marijuana arrest and citations during that time were for possession of less than an ounce.

Undersheriff Ron Supp said the few people who had court dates for marijuana possession after recreational use was legalized still faced penalties for their possession.

“For a little while we were seeing people get arrested for less than an ounce,” he said. “What those were was probably someone who was issued a citation for having less than an ounce and the court appearance date came after the law passed, so the old law still applied.”

Most of the arrests for marijuana the department has made since recreational use was legalized have involved possession charges for people under the age of 21.

Supp said he has not seen any particular increase in these types of arrests since marijuana became legal and more wildly available, and he expects that current arrest trend to continue.

“Since the law passed there have been a couple of arrests for possession that was less than an ounce but they were under 21,” he said. “We’ll have to wait and see for another six months and do the comparison and see how that works out but most of the marijuana arrests we make are for less than an ounce.”

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Public consumption has not been a major issue for the department, Supp said, but sheriff’s deputies could have a hard time keeping a dispensary safe if it were located in an outlying area.

There are no plans for a dispensary in the County’s jurisdiction yet but Supp said providing security for a dispensary in an area where deputies are not regularly on patrol could be difficult.

“If that were to happen that would be very difficult for us to tell that person who owns that store that we can provide adequate safety and security,” he said. “It’s just so far out there, we don’t have anyone that’s out there on a regular basis. If they put something way out there that would be difficult.”

Supp said until there is a place to purchase marijuana legally in the county, deputies should not experience any extra challenges in enforcing cannabis laws.

“I haven’t seen any change in anything since the law passed, but we also haven’t seen any dispensaries and that kind of stuff” he said. “When that changes, then we’ll see what happens.”

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