Are border beer, Colorado pot the same issue?

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

A substance that is crossing the Nebraska state line is legal on one side of the line and illegal on the other.

While businesses on one side of the line profit from sale of the substance, law enforcement and social workers on the other are left to deal with the mayhem the substance creates.

Nebraska joined other states in suing Colorado over that state's legalization of marijuana, which is still an illegal substance by federal law and in most other states.

Marijuana coming over the border is putting pressure on Nebraska law enforcement and clogging our court system, especially in the western part of the state.

That's not the substance we're referring to, however.

Tuesday, a hearing before the Nebraska Liquor Control Commission became heated as opponents of beer sales in Whiteclay sought to end such sales.

They brought some good evidence.

Whitelcay, with a population of about a dozen, sold the equivalent of 3.5 million cans of beer last year, most of it going across the border to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, where alcohol is banned

Opponents cited numerous troubles related to the beer sales, such as fires, drunken drivers, assaults with cars and baseball bats, rocks thrown at a car and a van speeding out of Whiteclay at 90 mph.

That doesn't include fetal alcohol syndrome, alcoholism and other serious social problems on the reservation, home to the Oglala Sioux Tribe.

Opponents noted that authorities must consider factors like the adequacy of law enforcement, sanitary conditions around the establishment and whether a business' operations run afoul of the public interest before granting liquor licenses.

They also called on local authorities to provide better and more timely law enforcement.

Whiteclay is 22 miles north of the sheriff's office in Rushville, and the opponents cited a response time of 35 minutes after a fight involving five to seven men was reported, and another assault call which took 44 minutes for an officer to arrive.

In one case, the fight was long over, in the other, the victim recanted the claim.

A retired attorney from Lincoln noticed at least seven people passed out along the highway during one visit to Whiteclay, and wondered why such conditions would be tolerated there and not in the state's capital.

Why indeed?

Shutting down Whiteclay liquor stores would likely result in more drunk drivers on the road, or at minimum more beer smugglers plying the highways.

Yes, beer and marijuana are simply symptoms of deeper issues that have to be dealt with directly to be "cured." But like it or not, we need to be honest and direct about dealing with those symptoms before digging deeper.

Nebraska needs to either close Whiteclay liquor stores or boost law enforcement to acceptable levels.

Then we can have a clear conscience in asking Colorado to deal with the marijuana problems they are creating for their neighbors.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: