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Will Wisconsin Legalize Marijuana in 2023?

  • A new bill has been introduced that would legalize marijuana in Wisconsin.
  • The bill calls for legalizing the possession of up to two ounces of marijuana in Wisconsin.
  • Wisconsin’s medical marijuana laws might also see upgrades.
  • Marijuana legalization in Wisconsin has received mixed support.

Recently, Wisconsin senator Melissa Agard (D) introduced a bill to legalize marijuana in the state. In a related announcement, Agard elaborated on the subject. “Here in Wisconsin, I am proud to have introduced the first full legalization bill in our state’s history back in 2013 when I was a member of the State Assembly,” Agard said. “I have introduced this bill every session since then and we continue to gather additional support each year.”

Senator Agard made the bold statement at a press conference being held outside an Illinois marijuana dispensary. She is confident that the bill will likely be passed this time, as there are “more cosponsors than in any previous session,” and she’s seeing “support grow around the state” as local leaders advocate for statewide cannabis reform.

Wisconsin is far behind the times when it comes to marijuana laws. Although Wisconsin does have medicinal cannabis laws on the books, there are no medical marijuana dispensaries in Wisconsin. The state’s medical marijuana laws are so weak that many advocates don’t even consider Wisconsin a medical marijuana state. 

What’s in the Wisconsin marijuana legalization bill?

The legalization bill, if passed, would tax and regulate the legal sale of marijuana products to adults over the age of 21 in the state of Wisconsin. Neighboring states Michigan and Illinois recently legalized recreational marijuana, and Wisconsin would most likely adopt their guidelines if the bill got the greenlight. 

This measure would essentially allow adult residents to legally possess up to two ounces and grow marijuana at home for personal use — up to six plants. Additionally, if the legislation is passed, visitors to the state of Wisconsin will legally be able to possess up to a quarter ounce.

In the past, many Wisconsinites have received overly harsh penalties for past marijuana convictions. This measure would allow for individuals to petition judges for leniency, expungement, and resentencing.

Will medical marijuana become legal in Wisconsin?

The senator also has plans to devise a way for chronically ill patients to access tax-free medical marijuana. If the plan comes to fruition, patients over the age of 18 would be required to receive a diagnosis of a debilitating medical condition by a certified Wisconsin medical marijuana doctor.

Support and resistance for legal marijuana in Wisconsin

One avid supporter of the Wisconsin marijuana legalization bill is Gov. Tony Evers (D). Last April, Governor Evers jokingly stated that he was “tired of hearing about Illinois sales figures,” and that Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D)  “thanks me for having Wisconsinites cross the border to buy marijuana.”

Gov. Evers has, through his proposed state budget earlier this year, attempted to legalize both medical and recreational marijuana. Disappointingly, last May, a Republican legislative committee stripped the cannabis language from the legislation. Another amendment by the Democrat committee tried to add the provisions back but was ultimately blocked by the Republicans.

There have been attempts by certain GOP lawmakers to elicit incremental changes in cannabis legislation. In fact, some Republicans have filed bills to more modestly decriminalize marijuana possession in Wisconsin. Sadly, none of those progressive measures advanced to the 2021 session.

Last year, local voters in three separate jurisdictions approved non-binding advisory questions in favor of marijuana legalization. It was apparent that during the 2018 election, many Wisconsin residents embraced marijuana reform by supporting more than a dozen similar measures across the state.

City officials in the state’s capital of Madison voted to exonerate most local penalties for marijuana consumption and possession, effectively allowing use by adults 18 and older.

Wisconsin, it seems, is slowly moving towards the eventual decriminalization, if not total legalization of cannabis. This is most certainly a step in the right direction!

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