Expected increase in marijuana-related crimes after IL legalization

Published: Jan. 2, 2020 at 5:35 PM CST
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As neighboring states have legalized marijuana use in some fashion, it remains illegal in Wisconsin.

A first offense possession of marijuana charge could lead to up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. OWI charges also could lead to an arrest and hefty fines as well.

The Rock County Sheriff’s Office says it does not have any additional patrols planned, but expects to see an increase in arrests related to marijuana use.

“I definitely expect that we’re going to see more arrests for possession of a controlled substance that they bring across the line,” Sheriff Knudson said. “I do anticipate that we’re going to see more OWI arrests that are going to be related to marijuana.”

Joshua Hargrove, a criminal defense attorney with Tracey Wood and Associates, said OWI charges can lead to serious criminal penalties.

“It’s more stringent than even alcohol because any amount that’s found in your blood that’s detectable will open you up to potential prosecution,” Hargrove said.

Hargrove spent time working with the Dane County District Attorney’s office and knows how charges like these play out in court.

“I think everyone needs to be cautious,” said Hargrove. “The ‘I didn’t know’, while it has never really been a defense, is definitely not going to work.”

Sheriff Knudson also wants to remind residents of the legal ramifications.

“We just want to let people know that just because it’s legal down there does not make it legal up here,” he added. “Our deputies are going to continue to do their job as they have.”