DeKALB – If you want to bring your own weed and smoke it in the newly-approved Aromas Hookah Bar in DeKalb, you'll need to make sure you're in compliance with legal marijuana practices, said DeKalb Police Cmdr Steve Lekkas.
Lekkas said he met with one of the bar's owners, Cameron Dye, Thursday to discuss procedures and plans for when the hookah bar opens its door for marijuana smokers, too. Thanks to city code amendments, smoking marijuana is now allowed in areas already designated, such as private residences, retail tobacco stores already in existence before the law change (as long as they comply with existing restrictions such as age and quantity) and designated smoking rooms like Aromas, 811 W. Lincoln Highway.
"As long as people are responsible and follow the rules, we don't anticipate it to be a problem," Lekkas said, adding his main concern from a law enforcement perspective is ensuring people don't drive impaired.
Marijuana will need to be transported to the bar in compliance with the law, in a sealed and odorless container, and up to the legal limit (30 grams for cannabis flower, five grams for concentrate, and edibles limited to 500 milligrams of THC).
"It applies for the vehicle, too," Lekkas said. "So you can't just buy an eighth of an ounce at a store, open it up at home, and then take some of it and throw it in a bag to bring to the bar. They have to go directly to the bar while it's still sealed."
Keeping in form with Illinois law, people will be allowed to consume marijuana through smoking, edibles or concentrate in the bar. However, like alcohol, the businesses will take on some responsibility to ensure they're not allowing customers to over-serve themselves.
"If people drive there, and they're smoking, the business will have some liability about not allowing people to get over impaired and then driving off," Lekkas said.
He said he hasn't really seen an upswing in DUIs related to marijuana in DeKalb since it became legal Jan. 1.
Lekkas said he believes Dye to be a responsible entrepreneur and wishes him the "best of luck" in his business. Lekkas said once Aromas has obtained insurance for the new branch of business, they will likely begin accepting marijuana smokers who will be carded at the door and need to show photo ID which proves their 21 or older. Police will also be making random sweeps to do ID checks, he said.
Aromas staff will have to make sure patrons are not selling or trading marijuana inside the bar, which would be illegal without a license, Lekkas said. That also creates another problem: making sure on-call staff are not getting a "contact buzz," from chaperoning the smokers.
"We're not paranoid," Lekkas said. "People aren't going to have the same high, but if they're impaired, too, it may be something to be concerned about."
He said Aromas' owners are still determining how they best want to ensure smokers remain responsible, whether that's confiscating keys or partnering with transportation services such as Uber or Lyft, as Dye said Monday.
"If we start seeing issues or start getting complaints about unregulated use and people aren't being supervised," Lekkas said. "Then we'll have to step up enforcement."