Skip to Content

Wisconsin impact from Illinois marijuana legalization

MADISON (WKOW) — By this time next year, recreational marijuana may well be legal in Illinois.

Legalization advocates in Wisconsin say that could have a negative affect on our side of the border.

Friday, the Illinois State Senate voted yes for legalizing recreational marijuana, sending it to Governor J.B. Pritzker’s desk.

As soon as Monday he could sign it into law.

“It will still be illegal in the state of Wisconsin,” Wisconsin State Trooper, Justin Goldnick said.

While possession of small amounts of marijuana in Madison is decriminalized, along border communities, penalties are harsher.

In Janesville it could cost you up to $500.

In Beloit, it’s $300 just for the first offense.

Wisconsin State Troopers say they’re used to dealing with drugs coming over the border.

“As of right now, we don’t predict a huge influx,” Goldnick said. “There are going to be a number of people who will be unaware that even though it is legal to purchase in Illinois, it is still illegal to possess in the state of Wisconsin.”

Representative Melissa Sargent has pushed for marijuana legalization since 2014 including a new bill this year.

She expects people will still head across the border, even with Wisconsin’s prohibition.

“It will have a direct impact on tourism,” Sargent said. “A lot of our Wisconsin neighbors, people who I’ve talked to on this very street are already planning trips down to Illinois in [January] when their bill actually becomes law.”

Sargent says current hemp farmers and CBD shops are interested in expanding to THC-based business.

Her concerns are they might leave Wisconsin for other states, like Illinois.

That could lead to a loss of revenue for the state.

While we hadn’t heard back from Republican leaders Sunday, Speaker Robin Vos and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald have been on record opposing full legalization.

They are split on the topic of medical marijuana.

Francisco Almenara

Reporter, WKOW

Skip to content