Police ready to tackle marijuana enforcement

Local News

URBANA, Ill. (WCIA) — The legalization of marijuana came with a lot of gray area for local law enforcement, but leaders say now, their path is more clear.

Champaign County Sheriff Dustin Heuerman feared, at first, he would have to replace K9s on the force, because they are trained to sniff out marijuana. However, since marijuana has to be transported in sealed, odor-free containers, the dogs would not be tipped off to the smell.

“So if our K9s are alerting on a vehicle, then that will mean that it’s not in compliance with the law,” said Heuerman.

The state has also directed law enforcement officials to expect new case laws to come about. Heuerman believes those will guide the way.

He feels his department is ready for the changes coming, but he admits…this 600 page law is far from straight-forward.

He says he wouldn’t be surprised if the number of people they arrest for marijuana-related charges stays the same…even after legalization.

“I believe it’s going to be difficult for people to comply with the law. I believe people are just going to say ‘well I’ve got to do X, Y, and Z to make this legal…but what are the chances of me getting pulled over between point A and point B…so I’m just gonna go.'”

The biggest thing, he says, is that people using it need to know how to transport it legally.

Staff with marijuana dispensaries went through training to make sure people know all about safe, legal use.

“The state has given us PLENTY of information to prepare us for the coming year,” said NuMed employee Luis M. Viveros-Balderas.

Viveros-Balderas says to think of it like alcohol. Once you open it, you can’t take it anywhere.

Some other rules:

  • Illinois residents can possess up to 30 grams.
  • Non-Illinois residents can possess up to 15 grams.
  • No one under 21 can buy, sell, use, or transport marijuana.
  • Marijuana cannot be smoked at or near schools, or in public places.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.