It’s a billion dollar industry, but how is it impacting the criminal justice system?

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CHAMPAIGN COUNTY, Ill. (WCIA) – It’s been almost two years since recreational marijuana was made legal in the state.

Since then, many people have been navigating the rules and regulations of growing, buying and selling it.

Julia Rietz is the Champaign County States Attorney. She said so far, that hasn’t been the problem.

“What we have seen, and continue to see, is that the legalization of particular types or amounts of cannabis leads people to think that all cannabis is legal, and it’s just simply not it,” she said.

She said in Illinois it is illegal to buy from a dealer, have it in large amounts, have it in the car if it’s not in a container, have it if you’re under 21, and it’s illegal to drive while you’re high.

“It’s worse since it’s been legalized, I think, because the legalization of a very narrow type of cannabis leads particularly young people to believe that all cannabis is legal,” she said.

She said right now in the criminal justice system, and particularly in the juvenile criminal justice system, they’re seeing young people who admit they smoke pot on a daily basis.

She said it is absolutely impacting their judgment and development in a negative way, and sometimes it’s leading to more crime.

“Frankly, some of the gun violence we’ve seen in our community arises out of young people, juveniles, young 20-year-olds, who are selling cannabis, using cannabis, shooting each other over cannabis,” she said.

Reitz said she doesn’t see these issues being fixed soon. Unless some laws change in the state.

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