Local law enforcement concerned about legal recreational marijuana legislation

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BELOIT, Wis. (WTVO) — Legal recreational marijuana could soon be a reality in Illinois.

Law enforcement across the state have concerns about how the bill could impact their communities. 

Governor Prizker is expected to sign the recreational marijuana bill, which would make it legal January 1st.

Beloit’s Police Chief David Zibolski, though has reservations, saying impaired driving in his state could become worse than ever. 

“There’s going to be more accidents, there’s going to be more deaths, there is more danger to the public, so it’s a huge concern,” Zibolski said.

In six months, recreational marijuana could be legal in Illinois.

Residents over 21 are allowed to posses 30 grams and non-residents 15 grams.

Just over the border into Beloit, Chief Zibolski says he’s concerned about impaired drivers.

“We’d hope that the motoring public who travel from Illinois to Wisconsin who may engage in the use of marijuana, don’t do that and drive because that would be illegal, and we’ll likely see an increase regardless in accidents and traffic fatalities as a result,” Zibolski said.

State Senator Heather Steans says there is a plan to keep the roads safe. 

“We have dollars that are getting directed to law enforcement,” Senator Heather Steans said. “There are new swab tests that are becoming available, one is made right here in Illinois by Avid Labs that was tested a year long pilot check by the state of Michigan police department. Now we’re providing a lot more tools to actually try to inhibit people from driving under the influence.”

Zibolski though is worried this new law could be a step back for his city. 

“Certainly in Beloit, we’ve worked very hard to lower violent crime to lower crime in general and to create safe public spaces not just from crime, but the motoring public,” Zibolski said.

While Zibolski says he can’t stop the governor from signing the bill, he hopes the public will be responsible. 

“Really encourage the public to educate themselves and it takes some time to do that, but it’s worthwhile to educate yourself about the facts instead of the little anecdotal snips that they often get,” Zibolski said.

Since recreational marijuana was legalized in Colorado, a study through the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy shows marijuana related traffic deaths increased 151%.
 

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