With Missouri legalizing medical marijuana and Illinois approving recreational marijuana, the topic of cannabis products has been a hot one during the past year.

In June, Illinois became the 11th state to legalize recreational marijuana.

Residents ages 21 and older may purchase and possess up to 1 ounce [30 grams] of marijuana at one time. Non-residents in Illinois may have 15 grams.

Selling at approved dispensaries will begin January 1, 2020.

Another big aspect of the new Illinois law is that the criminal records of nearly 800,000 people with records for purchasing or possessing 30 grams of marijuana or less may be expunged.

Ste. Genevieve County Sheriff Gary Stolzer has warned county leaders about the dangers of legalized marijuana, citing myriad problems that developed in Colorado after recreational use was legalized.

He believes Illinois legalizing it may exacerbate a problem already being experienced.

“I’m sure it is going to cause more of it to get into the county, but we’re going to continue to treat marijuana the same way we always have until it’s legal here,” he said. “That’s how we intend to treat it, along with all the other drugs we deal with.”

Officials here and in Illinois continue to stress that in 2019, marijuana is still illegal.

“Regardless of Illinois’ status on that, it’s still gonna be illegal to possess it or sell it in Missouri for recreational use,” city of Ste. Genevieve police chief Eric Bennett said. “Obviously, we’re going to see more marijuana here. I’m sure it’s just a matter of time before they legalize it here for recreational [use]. Until they change the laws, it’s still illegal here, and we’re still going to enforce it.”

See complete story in the July 10 edition of the Herald.