Cannabis law Rietz

Champaign County State's Attorney Julia Rietz

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CHAMPAIGN — A new state law won’t mean a new way of prosecuting local crimes involving marijuana, Champaign County’s state’s attorney says.

“I remind people that there is still much about cannabis that (will remain) illegal” post-Jan. 1, Julia Rietz said during a Tuesday appearance on WDWS’ “A Penny for Your Thoughts.”

“We don’t go after people smoking a joint in their living room. ... The focus is on the dealers.”

That will remain the case come 2020, when it becomes legal for Illinoisans 21 and older to possess small amounts of marijuana — with a few important conditions.

The new law “is about creating a mechanism for people to legally purchase small amounts of cannabis from a licensed, taxed retail establishment,” she said. “It is not a free-for-all. The possession and distribution of large amounts of cannabis that are not regulated or taxed is still illegal.”

Most significantly, Rietz added, is “the number of juveniles who are smoking cannabis on a daily basis to escape the issues they have to deal with in today’s world. That is a problem that we have to address.”

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Tim Mitchell is a reporter at The News-Gazette. His email is tmitchel@news-gazette.com, and you can follow him on Twitter (@mitchell6).