Peoria Police Chief Loren Marion Weighs Pros And Cons of Cannabis Legalization

Aug 24, 2019

Peoria Police Chief Loren Marion III said cannabis legalization is concerning to law enforcement, but may also offer some positives.

He says it takes an officer two to three hours to process an average cannabis arrest. Legalization will free up a lot of that time and expenditure, and also unclog backups in the court system. He said there may also be perception improvements for police.

He lists some of the downsides as the negative health impacts of recreational cannabis usage, the need for more drug enforcement training for traffic officers, and new complications for K9s already trained in marijuana detection.

The law requires automatic expungements of low-level cannabis arrests and convictions. Marion says the city will higher another records technician at a total cost of $58,755 to handle those new duties.

The city of Peoria projects it could get $575,000 in new sales tax revenue if it chooses to allow recreational cannabis sales.

It's unclear how many total expungements are on Peoria's plate, but Marion says there were 215 arrests for cannabis possession under 30 grams in 2017, 151 in 2018, and 71 this year. The estimated costs of processing those arrests totals in the tens of thousands of dollars range.

There are currently no inmates in the Peoria County Jail on cannabis possession charges under 30 grams.

First District Councilwoman Denise Moore asked Marion to create a list of arrests by race. At-large Councilwoman Dr. Rita Ali requested a breakdown by ZIP code. The chief said he will prepare those lists.