Indiana residents near western border prepare for legal recreational marijuana sales in Illinois

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STATE LINE, Ind. - In less than a month, Illinois becomes the 11th state to begin selling recreational marijuana legally. This also means more states surrounding Indiana will be selling weed, which sets up a certain challenge for law enforcement in the area.

State Line City has a population of around 130 people and sits on the border of Illinois and Indiana. Sal Marino technically lives in Bismarck, Illinois but his home is a stone's throw from Indiana.

"One house down and across the road is State Line, Indiana," Marino said.

Along the border, marijuana is a hot topic. Marino said the legal recreational use of marijuana will not impact him. But, it will impact others like deputies working to patrol the county so close to Illinois.

"Being a border county, I think we're going to see an increase in the number of people that possess marijuana because of that," Sheriff Russell Hart of Warren County said.

Hart told FOX59 his deputies are already seeing more arrests related to marijuana use. Hart said his county alone saw a 250% increase from 2015-2019, and he expects that number to go up.

"They'll be able to legally purchase marijuana in Illinois," Hart said.  "They could be traveling from one Illinois town to another Illinois town but say their GPS gives them the most direct route, which could be on our four-lane highway, which goes through the middle of Warren County."

Come January 1st, Hart said he and his deputies are not making any exceptions to the law.

"We're not going to change the way we view it just because on that side of the road, it's legal," Hart explained. "It's still not legal in Indiana and when you cross the border you need to know that."

The former Border Cafe in Danville could be the site of a nearby dispensary in 2020. It is located less than a mile from State Line, Indiana. Some neighbors believe that will impact their town.

"It's going to be made more readily available so yes, if the options are there for folks to experiment," Kevin Roderick, a State Line resident, said.

Under the new Illinois law, Illinois residents can buy 30 grams of raw cannabis – or about one ounce, cannabis-infused products with no more than 500 milligrams of THC, and five grams of concentrated cannabis product. Anyone from out of state can buy half that.

"If you're coming from Illinois into Indiana and you have marijuana that you've been smoking or you have some on you, it's going to be considered a criminal act here in the state of Indiana," Sgt. Kim Riley with Indiana State Police said.

ISP said they are prepared to enforce Indiana's no-tolerance stance. State police remind people if you are involved in a crash days or weeks after smoking marijuana you legally bought and smoked in Illinois, it could create an unwanted result in Indiana.

"You will be required to take a blood draw and if it comes back with marijuana in your system, you very well could be arrested," Riley said.

If law enforcement in Indiana catches someone with less than 30 grams, it's a misdemeanor charge. If you carry more than that, it's a felony.

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