What will the legalization of recreational marijuana mean for the Quad Cities?

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With the legalization of recreational marijuana on only one side of the Quad Cities, local law enforcement will have to make some changes. 

It’s only a formality with Governor J.B. Pritzker expected to sign it into law for Illinois.

Law enforcement officers in Iowa are frustrated by Illinois’ decision. Scott County Sheriff Tim Lane says the new rule will cause problems for his agency. 

Now departments in Iowa and Illinois are planning for it. 

Lane says there are very few laws a state could pass that would have direct consequences for their neighboring states, but this is one of them. 

“I’m disappointed that Illinois has chosen to go this route and it does affect us here in Scott County largely because we are one community that’s just divided by a river, and that river is not going to make much of a difference when it comes to bringing marijuana into our state,” said Lane.

On Wednesday, Lane made it clear that there’s going to be hard line between Illinois and Iowa when it comes to marijuana.  

But it won’t be long before recreational marijuana pot is legal in Illinois, putting the Quad Cities in a tricky spot. 

“Where we sit today, you can throw a rock to where it’s illegal,” said Rock Island County Sheriff, Gerry Bustos. 

And Sheriff Lane says his department will make that clear. 

“Here is Scott County we have no intention of being lax on marijuana possession.” 

Under the new law, Illinois residents will be able to purchase up to 30 grams at a time. And Iowa residents will be able to purchase up to 15 grams, but can’t bring it back home. 

“There’s going to be some changes, and we don’t know what that’s going to look like going forward,” said Lane.

While Lane says there won’t be checkpoints at the state border, that doesn’t mean there won’t be serious consequences for sneaking pot across state lines. 

“I’m sorry to see that Illinois wants to go this route but I don’t support it,” said Lane. “And we will not be lax about our enforcement here.” 

Iowa law enforcement isn’t the only one with concerns. Sheriff Bustos isn’t happy about the decision either. 

“I can tell you what concerns me the most is children having access,” he said.

In fact, law enforcement across the Quad Cities say they think the new bill means bad news.  

“A lot of people are able to drive under the influence, risk people’s lives, risk their own lives, and it’s difficult to detect that,” said Lane.

Which is why Bustos is sending a message to the community today:  

“Recreational marijuana is all that is legal, outside of medical marijuana,” said Bustos. “All other amounts, larger amounts, possession with intent to deliver illegal marijuana- that’s still illegal.”

And while the two states remain divided on the legalization, here in the Quad Cities they plan to work together on regulation.  

Both county sheriffs say they still have to discuss how they’re going to address this going forward. 

In a statement, Davenport Assistant Police Chief, Jeff Bladel, said “the law in Iowa is still very clear: it is illegal to possess marijuana in the state of Iowa, and we will continue to enforce the laws.”

Sheriff Bustos added that officers in their agency still won’t be able to use marijuana at all, even if they are an Illinois residents. As for their K-9 dogs who are trained to detect marijuana, Bustos says they will continue to do so in other circumstances, and be trained accordingly.
 

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