On Tuesday, Illinois officially went green, and that certainly doesn’t mean wind farms and solar panels.
Marijuana got a big boost in the Prairie state as a bill permitting recreationally legal marijuana was signed into law by Governor J. B. Pritzker. The bill will officially go into effect on Jan. 1.
Indiana still has laws banning the growth, cultivation, use or sale of marijuana in any form, but Hoosiers are legally permitted to go to Illinois, purchase marijuana products, and use them in the state of Illinois. Bringing any marijuana products across the state line into Indiana also constitutes a federal crime, on top of any state crimes. Operation of a motor vehicle while impaired by marijuana also constitutes a crime under the new Illinois law.
Even so, many may feel emboldened to make the 45-minute trip across the state line and bring a different kind of doggy bag back. In that case, CPD Chief of Police Mike Norman says, violators will not find a safe haven in Crawfordsville.
“I can’t say for a fact how (the legalization of marijuana) will affect Crawfordsville and Montgomery County,” he explained, “but I will say we will enforce the laws of this state and this community as best we can. It may be legal in Illinois . . . but it’s still illegal here.”
Efforts to contact Sheriff Ryan Needham were unsuccessful.
Beyond just the police, the school districts face a new problem. With full access to marijuana just a drive up Interstate 74, it’s a fair assumption that there will be marijuana in the community and easier access to it. This leaves the county’s three school corporations at risk for increased rates of marijuana use.
North Montgomery School Corporation superintendent Dr. Colleen Moran said that she hopes the police will work to combat an influx of drugs. “I hope the state police make good on what they said they would do, which is a no-tolerance policy. I hope they do their due diligence and keep it from being a problem,” she said.
As for how they would address the issue with students, Dr. Moran said their approach would not change. “What we’re trying to teach kids is just to make good decisions,” she said. “And we will continue to teach that in our health classes, in our fifth grade D.A.R.E. Program.”
Efforts to contact South Montgomery School Corporation Superintendent Dr. Shawn Greiner and Crawfordsville Community School Corporation Superintendent Dr. Scott Bowling at their offices were unsuccessful.
Wabash College is just as at-risk, if not more so, than the local schools, and it’s clear why. Older students, with more access to vehicles, time and money, and away from their parents, have more avenues of freedom to use drugs. Tom Kearns, director of safety and security for Wabash, explained that the college’s policy has yet to change, but will continue to reflect state laws. “There hasn’t been any talk administration-wide about how we handle these things. We have to follow Indiana state law,” he said.
A different but equally valid concern is athletes and drug testing. With Illinois legalizing marijuana, it would be safe to assume that any athletes’ chances of failing a drug test go up by some amount, simply because there’s a higher chance drugs are in the community. Would that require a corresponding change in any athletic departments drug testing policies, whether it be at the high school level or the NCAA level? That remains to be seen
“Any student involved in extracurricular activities is subject to random drug testing,”Moran explained. “And it is completely random who is tested and when.”
Wabash College Athletic Director Matt Tanney was unavailable to comment on the school’s drug testing policy.
In the end, Moran said, the important thing is working together to keep everyone safe. “Our secondary principals meet with Sheriff Needham, CPD, probation directors, and I’m sure at their next meeting they’ll discuss ways to combat the influx of that into the community,” she said.