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Keep bud in the budget and make marijuana reform a priority

Although the COVID-19 pandemic continues to keep folks safer at home, the governor is once again calling on Wisconsinites to share their thoughts at virtual listening sessions. Because The People’s Budget listening sessions are being held virtually this year, listening sessions will be focused by topic area:

  • Healthcare and Public Health
  • Environment, Infrastructure, and the Economy
  • Criminal Justice Reform
  • Our Kids and Education

These listening sessions will provide the governor with an opportunity to hear about the issues affecting our communities and our state directly from Wisconsin families and workers.

Wisconsinites interested in helping craft the 2021-23 People’s Budget can submit a written public comment on any topic at any time here. If you are interested in participating in the People’s Budget listening sessions, you can register to attend here.

If you need some pointers on how cannabis reform relates to our budget, please use the chart below. We know for a fact that Governor Evers is friendly to medical marijuana and decriminalizing small personal amounts of cannabis from a crime to a fine. We also know for a fact that in the 2019-20 budget process Republicans stripped anything marijuana reform from the final budget. Republican leadership and Republican key committee chairs withheld several bills from even a public hearing, including a medical marijuana start up bill vetted by the Republican Caucus.

Still, the landscape in politics does change and coming off an election we can see which of our newly elected official stands up for our rights and which ones do not. Do not give up the fight!

Keep Bud in the Budget by Jay Selthofner

Even if marijuana reform does not make its way back into the budget or is again stripped out of it, there is no doubt that we still need to hold our newly elected officials accountable and make marijuana reform a priority in the 2021-22 legislative cycle.

Wisconsinites will have one virtual opportunity and three in-person chances to attend public hearings of the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee. These hearings are some of the few chances people have to speak out on issues of the 2021-23 budget.

The hearing schedule includes the following four hearings, all from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.:

Friday, April 9, 2021 UW-Whitewater, Whitewater, WI
Wednesday, April 21, 2021 The Hodag Dome, Rhinelander, WI
Thursday, April 22, 2021 UW-Stout, Menomonie, WI
Wednesday, April 28, 2021 Virtual

People who would like to testify at the April 28 virtual hearing will need to register in advance. The committee has set up a portal to collect input: http://www.legis.wisconsin.gov/topics/budgetcomments as well as an email address budget.comments@legis.wisconsin.gov.

If you are planning on attending one of the public hearings, here are a few important things to note:
-The primary purpose of the public hearings will be to hear from Wisconsin citizens, while committee members may ask questions of speakers, it’s not meant to be a debate.

-Speakers (virtual and in-person) will be given two minutes to speak to make sure the committee is able to hear from everyone.

-We will be following the guidelines from local public health departments for the host location regarding masking, social distancing and room capacity.

-We ask that once you are done speaking, you exit the room so other individuals who haven’t had the chance to speak can do so.

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