'It's a bad thing': Beloit police chief concerned weed legalization in Illinois will hurt

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BELOIT, Wis. - Beloit police Chief David Zibolski said he's concerned recreational marijuana in the state of Wisconsin could lead to an increase in crime, along with other issues.

In late May, Illinois became the 11th state to legalize weed for recreational purposes and the first to do so through legislation.

Zibolski said he's worried about the issues this could create for the state line.

"My initial reaction was one of concern," he said. "because we’re in such close proximity to Illinois."

He said he believes the legalization could lead to an increase in crime, traffic violations and traffic fatalities, according to data he's analyzed.

"It is a bad thing, and I think people need to educate themselves about it before Wisconsin finds itself in the same situation," he said.

Others, including Rock County Board Supervisor Yuri Rashkin said they've seen growing support for legalization in the state.

"It would mean that people who have, maybe, anxiety disorders, medical issues, or are just looking for an alternative to alcohol, have a safer option," he said.

in 2018, Rashkin worked to include a question on the fall ballot to gauge the interest of voters should marijuana legalization come to a vote.

Zibolski said legalization would create more issues than it would solve.

"The data is there," he said. "You can't ignore the data, you can’t deny the data; it’s five years of trends and information."