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10 things you need to know about legal marijuana in Illinois

Effective Jan. 1, 2020, recreational marijuana sales will be legal in Illinois.

You probably have some questions about what this means, where you can get it, and how things may or may not change.

Here are 10 things you need to know before you head out to your regional dispensary.

1) Where can I smoke?

It will be legal to smoke in one’s own home and on-site in some cannabis-related businesses.

2) Where can’t I smoke?

Use is prohibited in:

Any public place, such as streets or parks

In any motor vehicle

On school grounds, with the exception of medical users

Near someone under the age of 21

Near an on-duty school bus driver, police officer, firefighter or corrections officer

3) What about my old police record (expungement)

The good news is many (not all) misdemeanor convictions will automatically come off the books. The bad news is it’s going to take a while.

State law now provides for misdemeanor offenders to get old pot convictions expunged.

If you were arrested by a state agency, the ISP has a process.

If, however, you were cited by a local law enforcement agency and pleaded guilty, you may have to handle the expungement yourself. Visit your local circuit clerk’s office to learn about eligibility, forms and fees.

No matter what, your application will wind through multiple agencies, so nobody should expect overnight results.

“We’re told that probably all those processes won’t be done until September,” said Diane Gerber, chief deputy circuit clerk for La Salle County. “Unfortunately, it’s not something where everybody will suddenly not see their names anymore.”

How about felony convictions? Here, you’ll want to consult a lawyer.

Peru attorney John Fisher said serious cannabis charges such as trafficking will never come off the books; but there is an array of other felony pot convictions for which a legal adviser will come in handy.

“The process is the same as expunging anything else,” Fisher said. “It’s rather technical and somewhat complicated though I think as it becomes more prevalent it will be easier.”

It also is illegal to transport marijuana in a vehicle unless it is in a sealed, odor-proof, child-resistant container, stated Thomas Kotlowski, Crystal Lake deputy police chief.

4) How will police handle driving and smoking pot?

State law dictates that pot cannot be smoked in any motor vehicle, including aircraft and boats.

Since there is currently no test for drivers to undergo for marijuana impairment, like the breathalyzer for alcohol impairment, Sycamore Police Chief Jim Winters said the officers will have to work around that.

“The officer through their investigation will document signs of impairment,” he said. The signs include how the person is driving and how they’re speaking.

“It could revolve around the way they’re acting or a statement they made,” Winters said. “Until a test is developed, they’re going to rely on observation and subsequent documentation.”

5) How will police handle nuisance complaints?

Winters said the police will handle nuisance complaints about marijuana as they would any other nuisance – loud music etc… The officer would arrive on scene, investigate if there was a criminal violation or just a civil violation and if there wasn’t a criminal violation they’d advise the renter to talk to the landlord or property owner.

“There will be some issues that have to be addressed by property owners and land owners about what’s allowable in a lease,” Winters said.

He said if the issue is not criminal, does the property owner allow it in the lease?

“For example, it’s not illegal to own a dog, but certain apartment complexes might say no dogs allowed,” Winters said.

Rodney Damron is police chief of Utica, located at the foot of Starved Rock State Park. Marijuana may be legal, but he anticipates getting — and dealing with — nuisance violations as visitors test their luck and his patience. Any outdoor smoking will be dealt with quickly.

“It’s not as if you can sit in front of one of our taverns smoking marijuana,” Damron said. “It’s not allowed in public.”

But what happens if someone lights up in a hotel room? Damron said whether he has the authority to halt a nuisance depends on several factors such as whether smoke is being emitted into a corridor or public area.

“There might be some gray areas where we can respond and act appropriately,” he said.

6) Where can I buy?

Licensed adult-use marijuana dispensaries:

The Clinic Mundelein, 1325 Armour Blvd., Mundelein

3C Compassionate Care Center — Joliet , 1627 Rock Creek Blvd., Joliet

The Clinic Effingham, 1101 Ford Ave. Ste., Effingham * Approved to sell, but won’t be open Jan. 1

Salveo Health & Wellness Dispensary, 3104 N. Main St., Canton

Phoenix Botanical Dispensary, 1704 S. Neil St., Champaign

MedMar Rockford, 2696 McFarland Road, Rockford

MedMar Lakeview, 3812 N. Clark St., Chicago

PDI Medical Dispensary, 1623 Barclay Blvd., Downers Grove

FloraMedex, 7955 Grand Ave., Elmwood Park

Mapleglen Care Center, 4777 Stenstrom Road, Rockford * Approved to sell, but won’t be open Jan. 1

Dispensary33, 5001 N. Clark St., Chicago

Maribis of Springfield, 2272 North Grand Ave., East Grandview * Approved to sell, but won’t be open Jan. 1

Maribis of Chicago, 4570 Archer Ave., Chicago * Approved to sell, but won’t be open Jan. 1

Zen Leaf St. Charles, 3714 Illinois Ave., St. Charles * Awaiting permit to sell

Verilife, 161 S. Lincolnway Ste. 301, North Aurora

Verilife, 4104 Columbus St., Ottawa

Verilife, 1335 Lakeside Drive, Unit 4, Romeoville

MME Evanston, 1804 Maple Ave., Evanston

MOCA Modern Cannabis, 2847 Fullerton Ave., Chicago

New Age Care, 2015 Euclid Ave., Mt. Prospect

Harbory, 8195 Express Drive, Marion

Columbia Care, 4758 Milwaukee Ave., Chicago

HCI Alternatives, 1014 Eastport Plaza Drive, Collinsville

HCI Alternatives, 628 E. Adams St., Springfield

Mission Illinois, 8554 Commercial Ave., Chicago

Nature’s Treatment, 973 Tech Drive, Milan

Herbal Remedies Dispensary, 44440 Broadway St., Ste. 1, Quincy

EarthMed, 852 S. Westgate St., Addison

The Herbal Care Center, 1301 S. Western Ave., Chicago

Midway Dispensary, 5648 Archer Ave., Chicago

Seven Point, 1132 Lake St., Oak Park

Zen Leaf Chicago, 6428 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago

NuMed Chicago, 1308 W. North Ave., Chicago

NuMed East Peoria, 504 Riverside Drive, East Peoria

NuMed Urbana, 105 E. University Ave., Urbana

7) How does this impact my employer’s drug testing?

Employers will be able to control worker consumption of marijuana products.

8) Where can I go so my kids don’t have to be around it?

Anywhere cigarette smoking is prohibited in Illinois, according to the Smoke-free Illinois Act, also will prohibit smoking marijuana. It cannot be smoked in bars, restaurants, schools, and other public places. This list includes libraries, theaters, museums and shopping centers that are enclosed Workplaces, retail stores and gaming establishments are included.

9) How are State’s Attorneys planning on interpreting the law?

Simply put, the law will be interpreted as it’s written, Kendall County State’s Attorney Eric Weis said.

Weis said there was at least more time for state’s attorneys to look at the state’s adult-use cannabis law as opposed to a literal day turn-around when possession was decriminalized. When it comes to possession law enforcement, he said, minors are still not legally allowed to possess the drug and drivers will not be allowed to transport it in anything but a sealed container.

Weis said he would also look at people consuming the drug in places where it cannot be legally consumed or possessed.

Weis said his office’s main concern will be people driving under the influence of cannabis, since their enforcement focus also will include people driving under the influence of alcohol. If there’s a party at someone’s house and parents are providing cannabis to underage people and someone were to be hurt or killed in a vehicle crash as a result, for example, that would also be enforced, he said.

Weis said the cannabis DUI concerns are the biggest ones for him because, with the new law going into effect on Jan. 1, 2020, you might be dealing with people who haven’t used the drug in a long period of time or have never used it at all and don’t know how it impacts their ability to drive a car.

Weis said it’s ultimately an adult’s choice to responsibly use cannabis or not if they’re older than 21, just as it’s their choice to consume alcohol.

“But when it impacts or can impact somebody else, such as a car crash or a fatal accident, then it becomes a bigger issue [and] you’re going to have to accept that larger responsibility,” Weis said.

10) Does pot go bad?

Cannabis comes with a “best by” date, according to the Colorado Pot Guide. Freshly cured bud has some moisture and has the most potency and flavor, and if it isn’t stored properly, then two things can happen: the consumer could be using less potent cannabis and experience a harsher inhale, or if the bud is wet, it could become a home for mold.

Consuming cannabis that has mold or mildew is harmful and could ultimately lead to a lung infection, according to Herb. An asthma attack, chest pain, dizziness and memory loss are just a few side effects that could happen to someone exposed to mold and mildew. The guide recommended that cannabis should be placed in a vacuum sealed container and stored in a dark, cool place – or to just purchase fresh bud.

Source: The Daily Chronicle

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