TWIN FALLS, Idaho -- Local law enforcement says more marijuana than ever is being trafficked into Idaho. The difference now? It's being grown legally.
"There definitely is a larger influx of marijuana trafficking," said Lt. Kevin Haight with the Idaho State Police Region 4 office in Jerome.
Haight said a lot of marijuana entering Idaho comes from from Nevada, Oregon and Washington. Nevada and Oregon both have legal medical marijuana while Washington voted to legalize the sale of recreational marijuana in the state.
The increase is one reason ISP is bringing back its drug detection dog program, he said.
In 2012, from January to mid-March, Haight said troopers in ISP's Region 4 made 232 drug-related arrests and seized 120 pounds of marijuana. This year, from January to now, Haight said about half as many troopers have made 181 drug arrests and seized 129 pounds of marijuana.
"We're about half (the staff) of what we're authorized to have," Haight said.
If the department was fully staffed, Haight said he believes there would have been many more drug related arrests in the first three months of the year. While about eight new troopers will joinRegion 4's staff in the next few months, they'll still be about three or four people short, Haight said.
County sheriffs are also seeing more traffickers in southern Idaho.
Gooding County Sheriff Shaun Gough said, while ISP generally takes care of the Interstate, his deputies occasionally do concentrated patrols on Interstate 84.
Last week, Gough said a deputy pulled over a car from Oregon and discovered two pounds of marijuana inside.
"They tried to pull the medical marijuana card," Gough said.
The problem: the cards, even if valid in Oregon, aren't valid in Idaho, he said.
"Folks try that all the time," Haight said.
George Warrell, undersheriff in Cassia County said his department has also seen more marijuana traffickers, but hasn't necessarily attributed it to more legal marijuana in other states.
"They come through and they don't realize it's illegal in idaho,"he said, "even though they've got a prescription in Oregon."
Warrell pointed out that possessing marijuana is still illegal under federal law.
Gough said he believes the influx of marijuana into Idaho began when Oregon legalized medical marijuana in 1998.
"It just keeps getting more and more and more," he said.
Now, Idaho has states on all sides with some form of legal marijuana.
"We're surrounded," said Lindsey Rinehart, executive director of Compassionate Idaho, a group that advocates medical marijuana in Idaho.
Rinehart said the fact that so many surrounding states legalizing some form of marijuana makes it more likely for criminal growers to come to Idaho to avoid regulation.
Many illegal growers in Washington were against the legalization of recreational marijuana, she said.
"They thought it'd make them lose money," Rinehart said. "Where would you go if you're going to lose money in one state?"
The fact that many traffickers are simply driving through Idaho with another destination in mind shows that there are already many sources for marijuana, she said.
"Cannabis is already here," Rinehart said. "It's growing here."
Rinehart said Compassionate Idaho is gathering signatures for a petition for an initiative to legalize medical marijuana in Idaho. A medical marijuana law in Idaho will prevent patients who use it from going to jail along with recreational users, she said.
Compassionate Idaho will present its point of view at the April 1 city council meeting in Twin Falls when the city council considers a resolution to oppose the legalization of marijuana.
One of the problems Haight sees with legalizing medical marijuana is that far more people will use it for recreational purposes, he said.