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.”
Voters in 16 counties across Wisconsin have signaled strong support for marijuana reform, voting in the affirmative on advisory questions asking whether voters approve of various legalization and decriminalization policies.
The advisory questions are non-binding, meaning that they won’t translate into actual policy changes. Rather, the purpose of the questions is to gauge public sentiment, which could help inform future legislation—as seemed to be in the case when Massachusetts went through a similar process in 2014.
Here’s a list that includes the text of each advisory question. This story will be updated to reflect which questions were approved or rejected.
PASSED—Brown County: Should cannabis be legalized in Wisconsin for medicinal purposes, and regulated in the same manner as other prescription drugs?
PASSED—Clark County: Should the State of Wisconsin legalize the use of marijuana for medical purposes and regulate its use in the same manner as other prescription drugs?
PASSED—Dane County: Should marijuana be legalized, taxed and regulated in the same manner as alcohol for adults 21 years of age or older?
PASSED—Eau Claire County: Should cannabis:
(a) Be legal for adult, 21years of age and older, recreational or medical use, taxed and regulated like alcohol, with the proceeds from the taxes used for education, healthcare, and infrastructure in Wisconsin?
(b) Be legal for medical purposes only and available only by prescription through a medical dispensary?
(c) Remain a criminally illegal drug as provided under current law?
PASSED—Forest County: Should the State of Wisconsin allow individuals with debilitating medical conditions to use and safely access marijuana for medical purposes, if those individuals have a written recommendation from a licensed Wisconsin physician?
PASSED—Kenosha County: Should the State of Wisconsin allow individuals with debilitating medical conditions to use and safely access marijuana for medical purposes, if those individuals have a written recommendation from a licensed Wisconsin physician?
PASSED—La Crosse County: Should the State of Wisconsin legalize the use of marijuana by adults 21 years or older, to be taxed and regulated in the same manner that alcohol is regulated in the State of Wisconsin, with proceeds from taxes used for education, healthcare, and infrastructure?
PASSED—Langlade County: Should the State of Wisconsin allow individuals with debilitating medical conditions to use and safely access marijuana for medical purposes, if those individuals have a written recommendation from a licensed Wisconsin physician?
PASSED—Lincoln County: Should the State of Wisconsin allow individuals with debilitating medical conditions to use and safely access marijuana for medical purposes, if those individuals have a written recommendation from a licensed Wisconsin physician?
PASSED—Marathon County: Should the State of Wisconsin allow individuals with debilitating medical conditions to use and safely access marijuana for medical purposes, if those individuals have a written recommendation from a licensed Wisconsin physician?
PASSED—Marquette County: Resolved, that “We the People” of Marquette County, Wisconsin support the right of its citizens to acquire, possess and use medical cannabis upon the recommendation of a licensed physician, and;
Be It Further Resolved, that we strongly support a statewide referendum Wisconsin to join the thirty-two (32) states that have already approved the use of medical cannabis for the treatment of chronic pain, several debilitating diseases and disabling symptoms.
PASSED—Milwaukee County: Do you favor allowing adults 21 years of age and older to engage in the personal use of marijuana, while also regulating commercial marijuana-related activities, and imposing a tax on the sale of marijuana?
PASSED—Portage County: Should the State of Wisconsin allow individuals with debilitating medical conditions to use and safely access marijuana for medical [treatment] purposes, if those individuals have a written [treatment] recommendation from a licensed Wisconsin physician?
PASSED—Racine County: Question No. 1: “Should marijuana be legalized for medicinal use?
Question No. 2: Should marijuana be legalized, taxed, and regulated in the same manner as alcohol for adults 21 years of age or older?
Question No. 3: Should proceeds from marijuana taxes be used to fund education, health care, and infrastructure?”
PASSED—Rock County: Should cannabis be legalized for adult use, taxed and regulated like alcohol, with the proceeds from the Taxes used for education, healthcare, and infrastructure?
PASSED—Sauk County: Should the state of Wisconsin legalize medical marijuana so that people with debilitating medical conditions may access medical marijuana if they have a prescription from a licenses Wisconsin physician?
Fun fact: Voters in Racine, Wisconsin, will see six separate marijuana measures on their ballots today because the city and county each approved three non-binding cannabis advisory questions. Waukesha, Wisconsin, is another city where a cannabis advisory question was approved.
PASSED—Racine: Should cannabis be legalized for adult recreational use in Wisconsin?
Should cannabis be legalized for medical use in Wisconsin?
Should cannabis sales be taxed and the revenue from such taxes be used for public education, health care, and infrastructure in Wisconsin?
Should cannabis be decriminalize in the State of Wisconsin?
PASSED—Waukesha: Should cannabis be legalized in Wisconsin for medicinal purposes, and regulated in the same manner as other prescription drugs
UPDATE: This story has been updated to reflect the latest results from Tuesday’s election.
See the original article published on Marijuana Moment below:
Wisconsin Voters Widely Embrace Marijuana Legalization In the Midterms
Wisconsin voters strongly favor legalizing marijuana, according to a new poll. In fact, just knowing that they’ll be asked to weigh in on cannabis at the ballot box increases the likelihood that most voters will turn out in November.
For the poll, which was conducted by Myers Research, professional interviewers spoke with 500 registered voters earlier this month. The survey “confirmed results of previous polling on cannabis legalization,” revealing that 64 percent of respondents support adult-use legalization, while 29 percent oppose the policy.
But the survey went a step further, asking respondents if they’d be more or less likely to vote in the upcoming election if they knew their ballot included an advisory question about cannabis policy reform—as will be the case next month in counties and cities representing more than half of the state’s residents.
Fifty-six percent of respondents said they would be more likely to vote if their ballot had a marijuana question, compared to just 19 percent who said they’d be less inclined to turn out. The self-identified turnout boost was particularly sizable for Democrats.
Sixteen Wisconsin counties and two cities have marijuana advisory measures on their November ballots. You can read the text of each question here.
While there’s nothing legally binding about these ballot measures, the results could inspire future reform legislation—as seemed to be the case when Massachusetts went through a similar advisory question process in election cycles leading up to the passage of a statewide legalization initiative in 2016.
The new Wisconsin poll also reinforced the idea that support for cannabis reform is widespread across divergent demographics. Every demographic included in the survey—with the exception of respondents who identified as Republicans—showed majority support for legalization.
“Democrats, independents, men, women, old, young, professionals and blue-collar workers all favor legalization,” Andrew Myers of Myers Research said in a press release. “It is therefore not surprising that every major area of Wisconsin—Milwaukee, Dane, Brown, and the western area—show majority support for the legalization of cannabis according to the poll.”
See the original article published on Marijuana Moment below:
Marijuana Questions Will Drive Wisconsin Voters To The Polls In November, Survey Shows
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
Voters in at least 13 Wisconsin counties could have the chance to make their voices heard on marijuana legalization this November.
A swell of cannabis-related advisory referendums have cropped up across the state in recent months—and two have already qualified for the ballot. The language of the questions are more or less the same: they ask voters whether they feel the Wisconsin legislature should enact a law legalizing and regulating marijuana for adult use, medical use or both.
Advisory questions on legalization have officially qualified for the ballot in Milwaukee and Rock counties.
On Tuesday, officials in Eau Claire, La Crosse, Langlade and Sauk counties held hearings on cannabis advisory questions.
Langlade’s executive committee unanimously approved the proposed referendum, and the full board will vote on the issue next week.
The La Crosse Judiciary and Law Committee also signed off on the cannabis measure in that county. Another panel there could consider the issue on Wednesday, with the full county board potentially taking a vote next week.
On Monday, the Brown County executive committee recommended putting legalization questions on the ballot. A hearing on the proposed questions saw sizable, public interest, Green Bay Press Gazette reporter Doug Schneider tweeted.
Four other counties—Kenosha, Marathon, Walworth an Winnebego—are expected to hold hearings about the prospective placement of legalization questions on the November ballot later this month, and officials in Dane and St. Croix counties are also weighing marijuana advisory questions.
Advocates are approaching the advisory question movement with caution.
Wisconsin has some of the most restrictive marijuana laws on the books in the U.S. Even a small possession charge can carry penalties of up to six months in jail or a $1,000 fine—and a second-time offense is considered a felony.
Support for marijuana legalization in the state, meanwhile, has been steady. Even two years ago, a poll found that 59 percent of Wisconsin residents believe the plant should be fully legalized and regulated like alcohol.
A representative from a Wisconsin-based criminal justice reform group told Marijuana Moment that while the rising number of counties approving legalization advisory questions is encouraging, there’s a risk that increased attention to the movement will draw strong opposition.
Still, the advisory referendum route seemed to serve Massachusetts well.
Before the state fully legalized marijuana in 2016, advisory questions on the issue were put before voters in numerous districts across several election cycles—each showing demonstrable support for adult-use cannabis legalization. Lawmakers aren’t obliged to act based on their constituents’ votes, but the questions are designed to serve as guides for representatives.
It is reasonable to assume that if voters in several Wisconsin counties approve the nonbinding legalization referendums this November, state lawmakers will consider marijuana reform much more seriously when they convene a new legislative session in January 2019.
See the original article published on Marijuana Moment below:
Voters Across Wisconsin Will Weigh In On Marijuana Legalization This November