Illinois State Police ready for legal marijuana

Updated: Jan. 1, 2020 at 8:44 AM CST
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ILLINOIS (WFIE) - Illinois is now the 11th state in America to fully legalize marijuana, that means a new set of laws for citizens to follow and police to enforce.

Illinois State Police Sergeant Joey Watson says that in a lot of ways marijuana will be policed like tobacco and alcohol, and he doesn’t believe that there will be much of a learning curve for state troopers.

“The law is clear," Sgt. Watson said. “There are a lot of stipulations within the law that restrict that usage."

One of the biggest concerns for ISP is high drivers.

Sgt. Watson says that arresting someone for a DUI is not changing even as marijuana is legalized statewide. He says that driving high gives off a lot of the same signs as distracted driving. Once troopers pull someone over the process remains the same, according to Sgt. Watson.

“In the law’s eyes it doesn’t matter where you got your cannabis; whether you got it legally for recreational use, or whether you got it through a doctor prescribing it or whether you got it off the street corner. It doesn’t matter to us," Sgt. Watson said. "You’re still impaired driving and we’re going to take you to jail.”

Illinois residents can buy up to 30 grams of cannabis flower legally, but for out of state residents that number is cut in half. Visitors to Illinois are allowed to purchase 15 grams of cannabis flower, 2.5 grams of cannabis concentrate, and 250 milligrams of edibles, however, you cannot transport marijuana across state lines.

“That’s a no go," said Sgt. Watson. "That’s on the federal level because even though some of these states are ratifying this and allowing this in their state, it’s not going to be good to go because of the overarching federal regulations.”

In addition to the new regulations placed on marijuana, Illinois Governor JB Pritzker granted more than 11,000 pardons for low-level marijuana convictions. Officials say that more than a hundred thousand more convictions may be eligible for a pardon.

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