Despite New Pot Law, Park Forest Man Learns It’s Still Illegal to Smoke a Joint in Public

Park Forest, IL-(ENEWSPF)- A Park Forest man learned that, in spite of legislation recently passed in Springfield regarding recreational cannabis, it is still illegal to smoke pot in public.

At about 3:30 PM on June 4, an officer was traveling south on Western Avenue passing Birch Street in a squad car when he observed a man walking north along the east sidewalk of Western Avenue approaching Birch Street. The man allegedly had his left hand lifted toward his mouth with his fingers in a “pinching position,” according to police. While driving past the man, the officer detected the strong odor of burnt cannabis and observed smoke coming from the man’s mouth, according to police. The officer suspected that the man was smoking cannabis, according to the report.

While conducting a U-turn to approach the man, the officer observed the man allegedly making a throwing motion while looking back over his shoulder in the direction of the officer. The man appeared to be very nervous when the officer approached him, according to police. The officer parked on Birch Street approached the man on foot and asked him what he was just smoking. The man, later identified as Randy K. Thompson, allegedly said, “I had a little piece,” according to the report. The officer detected a strong odor of burnt cannabis coming from the man, according to police.

Mr. Thompson asked the officer what was wrong. When informed that he cannot smoke cannabis while walking down the street, Mr. Thompson asked, “How? It just got passed,” according to the report. The officer told Mr. Thompson that the law allowing the open consumption of cannabis was not yet signed by the governor and made a law.

The officer asked Mr. Thompson if he had any more cannabis and Mr. Thompson allegedly said that he did. The officer searched Mr. Thompson and located an orange plastic pill bottle in his left front pants pocket. Inside the bottle was a clear plastic baggie containing a greenish plant material that resembled cannabis, according to police. The officer also found a two-inch long metal pipe, commonly referred to as a “one-hitter,” according to the report. When the officer asked Mr. Thompson why he didn’t use the “one-hitter” to smoke the cannabis, Mr. Thompson allegedly replied, “Because that would have been too obvious,” according to the report.

Randy K. Thompson, 31, 428 Shabbona Dr., Park Forest, was issued municipal citations on June 4 charging possession of cannabis (under 10 grams) and possession of drug paraphernalia. Mr. Thompson signed the citations and was released on the scene.

This is not considered an arrest, according to police, as Mr. Thompson was not taken into custody. Municipal citations are heard in Park Forest.

According to Illinois Policy, “Consumers will be able to buy marijuana for recreational use from licensed sellers on Jan. 1, 2020,” when the law goes into effect.

Illinois Policy continues:

It will be legal to smoke in one’s own home and on-site in some cannabis-related businesses.

Use is prohibited in:

– Any public place, such as streets or parks

– In any motor vehicle

– On school grounds, with the exception of medical users

– Near someone under the age of 21

– Near an on-duty school bus driver, police officer, firefighter or corrections officer

Any person, business or landlord can prohibit use on private property. Illinois colleges and universities will also be allowed to ban marijuana use.