January 1 did not only mark the beginning of a new decade, but also the first day marijuana was legally sold for recreational use in Illinois.
Area police officers considered potential effects the new law will have on Monona, Cottage Grove and McFarland communities.
Recreational marijuana became legal in Michigan in December and Canada in 2018, making Wisconsin basically surrounded, Monona Police Detective Sgt. Ryan Losby said.
Minnesota allows medical use of marijuana under qualifying medical conditions.
The closest dispensary to Monona, Cottage Grove and McFarland is Sunnyside Dispensary, which coincidentally happens to be located at 2696 McFarland Road in Rockford, Illinois. The dispensary is just over an hour away from the three communities.
Individuals must be at least 21 to purchase marijuana in Illinois. Non-residents can purchase half the amount of Illinois residents, and quantity depends on the form. For example, residents can purchase up to 30 grams of marijuana plant material. Non-residents can purchase up to 15 grams. All products must be consumed in Illinois.
“We expect a spike in marijuana possession and use, because another state has legalized near us, but other than that not too much,” Losby said about drug violations in Monona.
Discussions surrounding Illinois’ new legislation are circling around the department, but Losby said the department is well-versed and trained on all drugs.
“I think people that wanted to get ahold of THC in the past will find ways to get ahold of it. I don’t think it will make a big difference up here,” Cottage Grove Police Chief Daniel Layber said.
He noted that the department will continue to enforce laws and ordinances appropriately as it has done in the past.
Officers with the McFarland Police Department did not respond to inquiries for this article.
Research is being conducted in Colorado about the levels of THC and variations in levels.
“There’s a definite spike in drugged driving and then accidental use, such as dogs eating high levels of THC from the end tables and kids,” Losby said.
“Monona’s probably one of the most lenient, if not the most lenient in Dane County the way our ordinance is currently set up. We cannot cite anybody for simple possession of marijuana unless they’re under 21. I know Wisconsin is looking at legalization of medical marijuana already. It’s just a matter of time.”
If marijuana does become legal in Wisconsin, local police departments may have to re-evaluate K-9 programs.
“Sometimes it may take ending the K-9 program with that particular dog and getting a new dog that doesn’t alert to the smell of marijuana,” Losby said.
“There’s also a matter of marijuana in what amounts would be legalized,” Layber said.
He explained that if marijuana would be legalized for medical or recreational use, “they’re never going to legalize 10 pounds of marijuana here in Wisconsin,” he said.
The Cottage Grove Police Department would continue to use the K-9 program that would alert to marijuana to find it in illegal amounts.
“Just because it’s legal in Illinois doesn’t make it legal up here,” Layber said.