Pot in Illinois: Impacts on outdoor recreation of Illinois’ recreational cannabis program

Some impacts of Illinois’ recreational cannabis program on outdoor recreation are known, some are yet to be sorted.

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Uncertainty remains on what the new cannabis laws in Illinois mean for hunters, boaters, anglers on charters and forager/gatherers; that includes charters out of Chicago, such as this one.

Dale Bowman

I stumbled on a patch of wild marijuana while wandering Wolf Lake/Nike site/Eggers Grove in 2018. Now I wonder whether a forager legally can harvest it.

Many questions remain about Illinois’ recreational cannabis program, people recreating outdoors and law enforcement. The main sticking point is the federal government, whose cannabis regulations remain archaic.

Take the forms for gun purchases. A former licensed Illinois gun dealer texted: ‘‘It is my opinion that [cannabis users] will have to perjure [themselves] to buy a gun. I would be interested what the [Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms’] opinion was on states’ rights, since firearm sales are federally regulated.’’

Ed Sullivan, a former Illinois legislator who now is a lobbyist for the Illinois State Rifle Association, gave a thorough breakdown in ‘‘Cannabis and Your Second Amendment Rights.’’ (Go to isra.org, then click the ‘‘News’’ drop-down.)

Here’s the crux for gun owners:

‘‘If you believe in states’ rights, then according to Illinois law, you are not considered an unlawful user if you use or possess cannabis. As we all know in Illinois, we have a real special hoop to jump through to exercise the right to own and possess a firearm called the Firearm Owners Identification card (FOID).

‘‘The FOID card is administered by the Illinois State Police (ISP). We at ISRA have confirmed that the Illinois State Police will ‘not revoke Firearm Owners Identification cards based solely on a person’s legal use of adult-use cannabis.’ ’’

Sullivan caught a curious fringe of the state-federal question: personal information collected for medical cannabis.

‘‘If you intend to use cannabis and own a firearm, taking the recreational cannabis route has less potential detrimental effects on your Second Amendment rights than the medical cannabis route,’’ he noted.

Resized/Sun-Times

Uncertainty remains on what the new cannabis laws in Illinois mean for hunters, boaters, anglers on charters and forager/gatherers, such as these pheasant hunters lining up in central Illinois.

Dale Bowman

That federal/state question also matters for charters and recreational boaters. The Coast Guard issues captain licenses.

‘‘Briefly, under federal law, charter captains are subject to random drug-testing,’’ emailed Randy Schmidt, the president of the Chicago Sportfishing Association and a clinical professor of law at the University of Chicago. ‘‘Cannabis is one of the drugs that is tested for in the drug test. Therefore, charter captains will not be able to use cannabis, even though it’s legal in Illinois. The use by customers on a charter boat (or on a recreational boat) is a little more complicated.’’

If a charter is stopped by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources or the Chicago Police Marine Unit, it should not be a problem if a customer has marijuana.

‘‘[But] if we are stopped by Coast Guard, there could be a problem,’’ Schmidt noted. ‘‘I think most captains will maintain no-drug policies on charters.’’

It will be trickier with recreational boats (think Play Pen on a hot summer weekend), which often are boarded by the Coast Guard.

‘‘Marijuana is still illegal under federal law,’’ Schmidt said.

And still illegal in some settings.

‘‘While adult-use cannabis is now legal in Illinois, it still is illegal to use while operating a boat, snowmobile or other motorized vehicle — just as it is with alcohol or any other controlled substance,’’ noted Jerry Costello, the director of the IDNR Office of Law Enforcement. ‘‘Illinois Conservation Police are trained to administer and interpret field-sobriety tests annually and will, as they have in the past, continue to enforce OUI laws while patrolling our state parks, waterways and other public property.’’

Conservation Police have an upcoming in-service during which the ISP will help train on ‘‘adult-use cannabis-related issues.’’

As to marijuana growing wild, Costello clarified: ‘‘Finally, our officers will continue to remove and destroy cannabis found growing on public sites, as needed.’’

Stray cast

The only double more gratifying than Sean Payton and Bill Belichick being beaten on the same wild-card weekend was the double Ken Maggiore caught on March 22, 2017.

Resized/Sun-Times

Uncertainty remains on what the new cannabis laws in Illinois mean for hunters, boaters, anglers on charters and forager/gatherers, such as around Wolf Lake, near where a patch of wild marijuana grew.

Dale Bowman

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