With the sale of marijuana for recreational use now legal in many Illinois communities, area law enforcement agencies have reminded Wisconsin residents the substance remains illegal here and they will be prosecuted if caught with pot they purchased on the other side of the state line.

By Chris Bennett


There was a time in Wisconsin history, in the recent past, when families broke the law over butter.

Normally law-abiding citizens sneaked over the Wisconsin-Illinois state line for years to buy yellow oleo. The product could only be sold in its normal white color in Wisconsin, in an effort made to placate the state’s dairy industry.

Some desired yellow oleo because it was more appealing, in addition to being cheaper and easier to spread. Much has been written about Wisconsin’s “Oleo Wars.”

Perhaps a similar border-run mentality will soon erupt over marijuana, and on two fronts.

As of Jan. 1, marijuana is legal in Illinois for recreational use. Illinois residents who are at least 21 years of age may purchase and possess up to 30 grams of cannabis at a time.

Wisconsin residents and other non-residents may purchase up to 15 grams in Illinois, but the product cannot be transported across state lines.

Television news reports Wednesday showed hundreds, of people – including some from Wisconsin – lined up outside northern Illinois dispensaries for their chance to purchase marijuana legally.

The sale of marijuana for medical use became legal in Illinois on December 1. According to FOX News, retailers sold $4.7 million dollars of marijuana in the first three weeks of December.

In Michigan customers must be at least 21 and show a valid ID. Users can buy and travel with up to 2.5 ounces, keep up to 10 ounces at home and grow up to 12 plants for personal use as long as the plants are not visible from outside.

In Michigan those from out-of-state may buy 2½ ounces with a valid ID, according to staff at Bloom City Club in Ann Arbor. Bloom City Club is a Michigan dispensary for medical and recreational marijuana.

It is illegal, according to federal law, to transport marijuana across state lines.

This point is where the situation becomes problematic for those in Wisconsin who believe they can purchase product in other states, transport it to Wisconsin and partake.

You can’t – legally. Law enforcement agencies in southeast Wisconsin are prepared to enforce the letter of the law. It is illegal in Wisconsin to possess marijuana, and it doesn’t matter where it came from.

Law enforcement officials in the two counties in Southern Lakes Newspapers’ coverage area that border Illinois each issued firm statements regarding Wisconsin citizens purchasing and illegally transporting marijuana to the Badger State.

“Weed tourism” is the colloquial phrase coined to describe those who venture to other states to purchase cannabis and cannabis-related products that are illegal in Wisconsin.

The office of Kenosha County Sheriff David Beth, through Public Information Officer Sgt. Chris Hannah, released a press release on Dec. 2 in which the department acknowledged both the legalization of marijuana in Illinois and its responsibility to uphold Wisconsin law.

“In an effort to prevent confusion for the community traveling between the states Sheriff David Beth reminds everyone that Wisconsin state laws and Kenosha’s local ordinances have not changed and the Kenosha County Sheriff’s Department will continue to operate as normal enforcing these laws and ordinances,” according to the press release.

Beth’s office said the department’s deputies will continue efforts to educate the public regarding he dangers of using controlled substances and driving under the influence.

In Walworth County, according to published reports, Sheriff Kurt Picknell has said deputies will continue to follow and enforce the laws of the state of Wisconsin where marijuana in all forms is illegal.

For in-depth coverage of the topic, including where the law stands in Wisconsin, see the Jan. 2 edition of the Burlington Standard Press or Jan. 3 editions of the Waterford Post and Westine Report.