Illinois legalization has little influence in Wisconsin
While cannabis may be legal in Illinois for adult recreational use, marijuana prohibition is still alive and well in Wisconsin. Police in the state are monitoring the impact the legal recreational marijuana market in IL has on WI. So far, police are not reporting any remarkable changes. One reason many suspect marijuana possession charges haven’t spiked since legalization in the neighboring state is the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which has drastically impacted business and travel.
Marijuana was legalized in IL on Jan. 1, 2020, and marijuana dispensaries have since opened along the northern border. A 2017 report studying the impact legalization has on neighboring states illustrated that there were more marijuana-related possession charges in counties that border states where marijuana is legalized than in non-border counties.
Wisconsin police reported an average number of cannabis possession arrests for 2020, despite legalization across the state line. Police also noted that very few who were arrested argued that they had legally purchased the plant in IL.
Marijuana legalization is not off the table, according to some WI lawmakers. Efforts to legalize some form of cannabis for use were made last year, but fell on deaf ears in the Republican-led legislature. The legislature has not convened since April, but a session is expected to take place early this year. The legislature will focus mostly on pandemic-related measures, but marijuana legalization, whether medical or recreational, is on Democratic Party’s agenda in the state. Getting anything passed, however, will depend on Republican support.
As of now, 15 states have legalized marijuana for recreational use, and 33 states in total have legalized cannabis for medical purposes. Popularity in support of legalization continues to grow, and efforts are beginning to be made at the federal level. It may be a year or two until WI takes a legalization measure seriously, but, until then, you can always cross the border if you would like to purchase your weed legally.