Wisconsin Governor Aims To Legalize Medical Marijuana And Decriminalize Recreational This Year

Wisconsin Governor Aims To Legalize Medical Marijuana And Decriminalize Recreational This Year

Newly sworn-in Democratic Governor Tony Evers announced Monday that he is taking Wisconsin cannabis policy reform into his own hands by attaching proposals to his spending budget this year. With these proposals, Gov. Evers aims to legalize medical cannabis, decriminalize recreational possession and use, and expunge qualifying arrest records.

“Our budget will decriminalize possession of marijuana in amounts of 25 grams or less, and we’ll also be creating a path for expungement for these crimes for those who’ve completed their sentence or probation,” wrote Evers on Twitter.

According to the statement, “Wisconsin has the highest incarceration rate in the country for Black men,” and 75 to 85 percent of all inmates are being held for drug-related crimes. The racial disparity in marijuana arrests has long been noted throughout the United States and Evers wants to change it in the Badger State.
“The bottom line is that we are spending too much money prosecuting and incarcerating people — and often persons of color — for non-violent crimes related to possessing small amounts of marijuana,” wrote Evers.

Medical Cannabis in Wisconsin

Legalizing cannabis for a medicinal purpose in Wisconsin is inspired by Evers’ own experience with a debilitating disease. “As a cancer survivor, I know the side effects of a major illness can make everyday tasks a challenge. People shouldn’t be treated as criminals for accessing a desperately-needed medication that can alleviate their suffering,” Gov. Evers said. “Wisconsinites overwhelmingly agree that this is a critically important issue. But it’s not just about access to health care, it’s about connecting the dots between racial disparities and economic inequity.”

Currently, only nonpsychoactive CBD oil is legal in Wisconsin, and it is unclear whether the mostly Republican state Legislature will support Gov. Evers’ new proposals. According to the Wisconsin State Journal, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) is against the legalization of medical marijuana, but the Republican leaders of the State Assembly have shown that they may be open to legalizing the plant for medical use.  

The full details of the medical marijuana policy outlined by Evers will not be released until February 28. In the statement released Monday, the governor’s office did acknowledge that the proposal establishes that physicians would be able to recommend medical cannabis to patients to alleviate symptoms caused by debilitating conditions like cancer, glaucoma, post-traumatic stress disorder, chronic pain, severe nausea, and seizures. Registered, card-holding patients would also be permitted to cultivate up to 12 mature plants at home.

The proposal also eliminates the requirement under the current law that a patient using CBD oil must have a recommendation from a physician in order to avoid prosecution.

Decriminalization, Not Legalization

While the proposal decriminalizing 25 grams or less of marijuana for recreational purposes faces a more difficult challenge in the Legislature, it has support from the Wisconsin voters. According to a recent poll from Marquette University Law School, 59 percent of Wisconsinites support legalizing marijuana. Some cities, like Madison, have already decriminalized personal cannabis possession.

Under Gov. Evers’ proposal, the recreational possession, manufacturing, and distribution of 25 grams or fewer of marijuana would be decriminalized state-wide. It does not establish a framework for retail dispensaries, but any person who sells the 25 grams or fewer at one time would be doing so within the confines of the law.

Driving a motor vehicle under the influence and consuming in public places or on school property would remain illegal and punishable by law.

“Too many people, often persons of color, spend time in our criminal justice system just for possessing small amounts of marijuana. That doesn’t make our communities stronger or safer,” Evers said. “This shouldn’t be a Republican issue or Democratic issue, and I look forward to working on both sides of the aisle to pass this proposal in my budget.”

Poll: Huge Majority Of Wisconsin Voters Want Marijuana Legalized

Poll: Huge Majority Of Wisconsin Voters Want Marijuana Legalized

A steadily growing majority of voters in Wisconsin say they want marijuana to be “fully legalized and regulated like alcohol,” according to a new poll.

Wisconsin is lagging behind other states in the Great Lakes and Midwest regions in advancing marijuana policy reform. Unlike nearby Illinois and Minnesota, the state does not have medical cannabis beyond an extremely limited CBD program.

And even simple possession of marijuana is punishable by six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

This lack of progress isn’t because voters are unwilling.

Sixty-one percent of voters said they want marijuana prohibition to be replaced with legal regulations, according to a new poll Marquette University Law School released on Wednesday, compared to 36 percent who said they were opposed.

That’s a slight increase from 2016, the last time the question was asked, when 59 percent said they supported legalization and 39 percent were opposed.

These results are consistent with other surveys, including national polling conducted by Pew and Gallup, which also find marijuana legalization popular with a majority of Americans. A separate poll in New Jersey, also published on Wednesday, showed majority support for legal cannabis in that state.

The Wisconsin results also show that voters there continue to warm to the idea despite intransigence from Gov. Scott Walker (R), who has called marijuana a gateway drug and who has voiced support for drug-testing recipients of government benefits.

The majority of marijuana consumers do not move on to use other, harder drugs, the National Institute on Drug Abuse has found.

The new survey also shows that marijuana legalization is slightly more popular among men than women, and far more popular among Democrats than Republicans.

Sixty-two percent of men said they favored legalization, compared to 53 percent of women.

And 62 percent of Republicans want to keep marijuana illegal, while 76 percent of Democrats and 67 percent of independents said they favored legalization.

Ending prohibition was most popular among voters ages 30 to 44. Seventy-three percent of those respondents said they favored legalization, with 68 percent of voters aged 18 to 29 and 61 percent of voters aged 45 to 59.

Marijuana legalization proved least popular among older voters and among religious voters, according to the poll.

The results may bode well for Tony Evers, the Democratic challenger to Walker, who trails the governor by two points in the same poll.

Evers has said that he would sign medical cannabis legislation into law if elected and has said he also favors decriminalizing marijuana and holding a voter referendum on broader legalization. Marijuana-friendly candidates have had a string of success in other races across the country.

Meanwhile, a number of counties throughout the state will have nonbinding marijuana advisory questions on their November ballots.

This Man Is The Reason Congress Can’t Vote On Marijuana Anymore

See the original article published on Marijuana Moment below:

Poll: Huge Majority Of Wisconsin Voters Want Marijuana Legalized

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