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Legal Marijuana Could Bring Some Unwelcome Changes In Illinois

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Dorothy Tucker Dorothy Tucker
Dorothy Tucker has served as a reporter for CBS 2 Chicago since 1984....
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(CBS) — In just a couple of months, pot will be legal in Illinois. The sale of medical marijuana promises big changes to our communities. But as Dorothy Tucker reports, you might not like some of them.

Whatever you call it, it’s easy to find in Colorado, but smoking pot in public is illegal.

Cards are a requirement at dispensaries where the drug is sold. Advocates say most customers follow the rules and the fastest growing group of buyers are women in their mid-40’s.

“The more people around them that mention they’re using cannibals for pain or for anxiety or for sleep disorders, you’ll start to see people come around,” said marijuana advocate Wanda James.

In Colorado, dispensaries outnumber Starbucks and several can be on a block. Here in Illinois, the law sets a limit of 60 for the entire state. But, some still predict problems.

Lieutenant Ernie Martinez, the president of Colorado’s drug investigation association, says there will be chaos initially and crime will rise.

“You’ll see burglaries, you’ll see assaults, you’re gonna see robberies,” said Martinez. “Bad guys want this commodity.”

Bad guys caught on camera in a suburban dispensary looking for drugs and cash underscore the problem, and the need for heavy security.

It looks like Fort Knox at one warehouse where weed is grown. Inside, where dozens of rooms are filled with marijuana plants, there are a gaggle of motion detectors and security cameras.

Steve Horwitz owns Ganja Gourmet dispensary.

“I’ll walk out of here at 11 at night and you can be sure I look at that door both ways,” said Horwitz.

Ganja is one of several dispensaries in a middle class neighborhood.

“It’s just another shop down the street to be honest,” said one neighbor.

Dispensaries have to be at least 1000 feet from a school. They’re not close, but they’re not invisible.

“It bums me out that with my kids and they see McDonalds’ signs and stuff and now they see these marijuana signs and this is just going to become normal, so that’s a bummer,” said one concerned mom.

Experts say it’ll be at least six to eight months before we see any dispensaries or grow centers in Illinois. State officials are still finalizing the rules and regulations.

The future of legal weed in Illinois is not guaranteed. The medical marijuana law is a pilot program that could end by 2018.

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