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Reaction to Illinois marijuana legalization

News 18 talked with Indiana State Police, the Sheriff of Fountain County and a business owner in Danville, Illinois to see how legal marijuana in Illinois will impact both sides of the state border.

Posted: Jun 26, 2019 5:33 PM
Updated: Jun 26, 2019 6:25 PM

TIPPECANOE COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) - Local police now have to manage the possibility of marijuana crossing into Indiana from another state border. This comes after Illinois becomes the 11th state in the U.S. to legalize recreational marijuana. 

"The law in Indiana stays the same," said Sgt. Kim Riley with Indiana State Police. Meaning just because recreational marijuana is now legal in two states bordering Indiana, it's still not legal here. Ohio also legalized marijuana, but only for medicinal use. Sergeant Kim Riley with Indiana State Police want people to remember that marijuana use of all forms is against Indiana law.

"If you think you can cross the line and say well I live in Illinois, it's legal in Illinois, that's not going work," he said.

Here's how it's going to work in Illinois:

Newly elected governor J.B. Pritzker signed the bill into law on Tuesday. Cannabis purchases from licensed and established dispensaries won't start until January 1st, 2020. That means possession of marijuana is still a crime until that date.

Illinois residents can only possess 30 grams of the drug at a time. Non-residents can only have up to 15 grams. You also have to be 21 years old to purchase.

Mohammad Abdallah's family owns a liquor store in Danville Illinois. He's concerned about people who are currently behind bars for possession.

"People are doing life right now for marijuana and non-violent crimes," he said. "I hope they resolve that and get out of jail."

Legalizing means that nearly 800,000 people with criminal records for purchasing or possessing 30 grams of marijuana or less will have their records wiped clean of that crime. Abdallah also hopes the tax revenue is put to good use.

"Hopefully they invest those taxes into our public schools and our roads," he said.

Roads play an important role in this legalizing marijuana situation. Indiana police agencies have been dealing with marijuana crossing into the Hoosier state since Michigan legalized the drug in November of 2018.

"When you come into Indiana, you have to follow the rules of the road and the laws of Indiana," he said" "That's what we enforce. If you think you can come over from Michigan or Illinois because it's legal there, does not make it legal here."

He also added driving while under the influence of marijuana is still illegal in all three states, regardless of the drug's legal status. This change isn't a major concern for ISP, but they will continue to do their jobs.

I-74 runs from Illinois through the northern part of Vermillion County, into Fountain County. It's also the most direct route for people to travel between Indianapolis and prominent Illinois cities, such as Champaign and Peoria.

News 18 talked with Fountain County Sheriff Terry Holt over the phone. We asked if the sheriff's office had any plans in place for how to manage marijuana passing through the county. He said they are working on their plan, and they hope to have something more concrete in about a month.

News 18 also reached out to the sheriffs in Newton, Benton and Warren Counties with no immediate response.

This change isn't a major concern for ISP, but Sgt. Riley said they will continue to do their jobs.

"As long as we are enforcing our laws and rules of the state of Indiana and the Constitution of the United States, we're going to continue to do what we've always done," he said.

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