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Recreational marijuana still to come to South Beloit, stateline communities prepare

SOUTH BELOIT (WREX) — None of the states surrounding Illinois have legalized recreational marijuana, which makes the drug a hot commodity for border communities.

Police in northern Illinois are working with officers in Wisconsin to make sure people aren't breaking the law with the drug. Just a few steps separates marijuana possession from being legal to being a crime.

"Certainly we are aware of the change in the law down in Illinois," Rock County Sheriff Troy Knudson says. "We're cognizant that there may be more of these controlled substance violations."

Sheriff Knudson says his biggest concern is people from Wisconsin driving to Illinois for cannabis, then driving back across the stateline high.

"Highway safety, [we] want to make sure people are safe on the highways and we don't want Wisconsin residents going down to Illinois [and] consuming those controlled substances and then trying to drive back here and causing accidents," Knudson explains.

But a dispensary will soon be coming to South Beloit.

"We haven't opened here yet," South Beloit Mayor Ted Rehl says.

While the facility is still under construction, the concern about the impact of recreational marijuana is growing in southern Wisconsin. Mayor Rehl says South Beloit's dispensary won't open until March, which gives the city's Police Chief Adam Truman and his department more time to prepare.

"We're preparing by sending our officers to a new class called ARIDE," Chief Truman says. "It's new to us because we've never sent anyone, but [it stands for] advanced roadside impaired driving enforcement."

Truman says that class will help officers identify drivers who may be high and stop them before they cross the border. Another issue his department faces is making sure people aren't crossing the stateline with the drug, which is a much more difficult task.

"As far as taking action, we don't have a specific plan," Truman explains.

But it's something he says he and his department will continue to collaborate with police in Wisconsin on to make sure recreational marijuana stays where it's supposed to.

Despite the challenges the police departments in South Beloit and Beloit face, and will continue to face, in regards to recreational marijuana going forward, Mayor Rehl says money from sales will "unequivocally help the city" and he makes "no apologies" for supporting it.

Richard Bodee

Richard Bodee is a reporter at WREX. He joined the 13 WREX team in June 2019 after graduating from DePaul University with a Master’s degree in broadcast journalism.

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