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Wisconsin Residents Head To Illinois To Buy Legal Weed

Illinois Joins Growing Number Of States To Legalize Recreational Marijuana

People in line outside a marijuana shop
Hundreds of people have been waiting in line at RiSE in Mundelein, Illinois, the closest dispensary to Wisconsin, since New Year’s Day to buy legal marijuana. Corrinne Hess/WPR

Any changes to Wisconsin’s current marijuana policy appear unlikely, with state lawmakers recently saying they won’t consider a proposal to allow medical use. But that isn’t stopping state residents from going to Illinois to buy legal weed.

On Wednesday, more than $3 million in marijuana was reportedly sold on the first day of legal sales of recreational pot in Illinois.

Trent Yager, of Kenosha, waited outside of RiSE in Mundelein, Illinois, on Thursday with his father. It’s the closest dispensary to Wisconsin. Yager said he planned on buying a few plants.

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“I’m not a regular user, I just wanted to try it out and see if I liked it,” Yager said.

Tara, who didn’t want to give her last name, said she has never used drugs before. But she drove to RiSE to see what a dispensary was like and buy some edibles.

“It’s exciting,” Tara said. “Obviously, yesterday was probably insane, but it is part of history.”

While hundreds of Wisconsin residents are headed south to purchase legal marijuana, it’s still illegal in Wisconsin to possess the drug.

Brendan Blume, vice president of store development at RiSE, said the amount people can buy depends on if they are Illinois residents or live out of state.

“Thirty grams to 15 grams in state, it’s about half for out of state,” Blume said. “If people buy it in the state of Illinois, they have to consume it here.”

The Kenosha County Sheriff’s Department said it will continue to operate as normal enforcing state and local laws and ordinances.

Kenosha County Sgt. Chris Hannah said there are no plans to increase patrol. Hannah said no marijuana arrests or citations have been issued since New Year’s Day.

In addition to joining a growing list of states to legalize recreational cannabis, Illinois Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker pardoned more than 11,000 low-level marijuana convictions this week.

Meanwhile, in Wisconsin, state lawmakers haven’t moved forward on a bill to legalize medical marijuana.

Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ state budget would have eliminated civil and criminal penalties for possession of up to 25 grams of marijuana and legalized medical marijuana. Republicans stripped those provisions from the budget, saying Evers’ plan was really about decriminalization.

Last month, Republicans introduced a medical marijuana bill, however, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald has voiced his opposition, saying there aren’t enough votes to pass it.

Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, a Democrat, took to Twitter Wednesday to criticize Wisconsin’s lack of movement on making marijuana legal.

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