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Kenosha County Sheriff concerned about impact of Illinois' recreational pot proposal

Posted at 4:48 PM, Mar 06, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-06 19:21:11-05

The Kenosha County sheriff is raising concerns about Illinois' push to legalize recreational marijuana. Illinois' governor believes it would make their state safer, but the Kenosha County sheriff thinks it would mean more patrolling for pot on this side of the state line.

If Illinois passes its recreational marijuana bill it would mean adult Wisconsinites could simply cross state lines to buy legal pot. Sheriff David Beth worried many will illegally try to bring it back to Wisconsin.

Across Illinois, there are dozens of medical marijuana dispensaries like EarthMed in Addison that have plenty of customers legally walking out with brown paper bags full of pot.

"Maybe close to 2,000, it's hard to say," said general manager Pauline Theotikos.

A proposal making its way through the Illinois legislature would allow anyone of age to buy weed similar to how alcohol is regulated. Theotikos said they'd be making the switch.

"We are on board of course for revenue purposes and for the state of Illinois which would increase revenue," Theotikos said.

That bothers Kenosha County Sheriff David Beth.

"If they legalize it, what you're going to see is people from Wisconsin traveling right down Interstate 94, going straight down to Illinois and purchasing what they feel they should be purchasing and driving back up," he said.

Beth points to issues when Colorado legalized recreational pot in 2014. It caused headaches for law enforcement in bordering states like Nebraska. Felony distribution and sale of marijuana spiked 40-percent according to Nebraska Public Television.

"To generate $160 million a year, is it worth whatever is going to happen as the consequences? That scares me," Beth said.

Beth isn't alone, the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police was at the Illinois state capitol building on Wednesday rallying against the proposal.