Wisconsin Monitoring Marijuana Arrests As Neighboring State Illinois Legalizes
As dispensaries along Illinois' northern border have become a playground since the state legalized recreational marijuana nearly a year ago, local law enforcement officials say they have not seen any major impact in Wisconsin. He said his department had not seen an increase in marijuana possession charges, though he warned that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic could cloud the data and drastically affect business and travel.
“I don't know if we can draw any conclusions at this stage about the impact, but we will continue to examine them” Sgt. Beed said.
Mark Ratzlaff is a member of the Police Department's criminal investigation unit and a veteran officer in the department's drug division.
Recreational marijuana was officially legalized in Illinois on January 1, 2020, and dispensaries will soon open in Chicago, Rockford, and South Beloit. State and local officials have said for years that they would monitor the drug, which remains illegal in Wisconsin, to see if any major effects were detected. A study by the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Center for Drug Policy Research found no significant increase in arrests for possession of small amounts of marijuana compared to the counties outside the border. The impact was minimal in Milwaukee County, the Wisconsin Department of Public Safety said.
Jude Maurer said arrests and citations fluctuate from year to year and the department does not need to make changes to marijuana-related operations. The Rock County Sheriff's Office recorded only one arrest for possession of THC, a constituent of cannabis that can produce high levels, compared to 246 such arrests in the same period in 2018 in Milwaukee County, which was accompanied by 246 such arrests.
“police inspector Thomas Stigler said this may be due to the fact that most of the few people arrested for possession of marijuana are not from the Netherlands. Let's say they got it legally in Illinois. The same could not be said for a pharmacy that opened south of the border in South Beloit”, he said.