16 of the 33 Senate Seats were up for election in November 2020 and the other half will be up in 2022. Starting in January 2021 after newly elected or re-elected officials take their oath of office the overall structure of the the Wisconsin State Senate will change. With Republican Senator Fitzgerald moving onto his congressional seat, the dynamics have a chance to change under the new Republican Leadership. The Republican Joint Finance Committee Members consists of past Republican co-sponsors of medical and decriminalization.
We have some encouraging percentages of support on the issue of medical cannabis from the Senate and all the candidates in the the 13th Senate District Special Election signal of support for medical marijuana reform. I find it ironic that in the district formerly represented by Fitzgerald, all six (6) candidates supported reform that Fitzgerald was so blind with hate that he could not see.
We have opportunity when we digest the remaining 17 Senators (10 Republicans + 6 Democrats + 1 Vacant) that will be up for election in November 2022. Of those 11 Republicans, we had one only 1 ‘A’ / passing grade and the remaining 10 Senators receiving ‘F’ Failing grades for lack of action, silence on their true stance or vocal opposition to marijuana reform.
Of the 6 Democrats remaining; 5 received passing grades (2 ‘A’ and 3 ‘B’ and 1 ‘D’).
Maybe it helps if we name names and leave their voting records/history on marijuana reform. Our job is to make change happen and that includes evolving our elected leaders willingness to reform the marijuana laws. Marijuana is not for everyone, but is is certainly not a crime.
Senate District 1 (R) Andre Jacque Grade: (Opposed) F As an Assembly Representative he ignored constituents on the issue starting back in 2010. As a Senator he repeats his past performance and earns a solid F.
Senate District 3 (D) Tim Carpenter, Grade: (Medical / Decriminalization) B- We have Senator Carpenter labeled as a cannabis supporter. We are not aware that we sponsored adult use or decriminalization measures. In the past he was against medical marijuana patients growing their own medicine and it appears he has a change of heart as he did sponsor AB 570 this session, which was medical marijuana legislation with home grows. We grade him a B- but could easy advance up or drop a grade based off his future actions.
Senate District 5 (R) Dale Kooyenga, Grade: (Medical / Decriminalization) D+ Wisconsin’s historic bipartisan cannabis decriminalization bill back in 2017 included a number of sponsors of cannabis law reform legislation not seen before the decades and then Republican Assembly Representative Dale Kooyenga was an author of. On the campaign trail in 2018 he expressed support for medical cannabis and was highly expected to join other Republican Senators in supporting the issue in the 2019-2020 legislation session.
Unfortunately, Senator Kooyenga received a D+ for his cold feet in not signing on as a co-sponsor to either version of the medical marijuana bills during the 2019-2020 sessions. If Senator Kooyenga had signed on, it would have assured majority support in the Senate on the issue and made advancing bills through committee an easier process.
Senate Bill 507 / Assembly Bill 570 (Medical Marijuana with home grows/smoking) and Assembly Bill 750 / Senate Bill 683 (Creation of a Medical Marijuana Program) have been assigned to harsh committee assignments and Senator Kooyenga support on the bills would have helped tremendously.
Senate District 7 (D) Chris Larsen, Grade: (Legal/Medical / Decriminalization) A+ Senator Larson sponsored Adult Use, Grow Your Own/Smoking Medical Marijuana and Decriminalization and that is all we can ask. Thank you Senator Larson for your continued support, you earned your A+ rating. Larson was re-elected to the Wisconsin State Senate for a third term in November 2018.
- New Senate Leader! Senate District 9 (R) Devin LeMahieu, Grade: (Unknown/Uncommitted) F
Senator LeMahieu failed, it is just that simple. F
Out of the 25 attendees in a 2017 listening session, nine people voiced their support of legalizing medical marijuana in the state. Many cited mental health issues they believed would be better treated with cannabis oil than with pharmaceuticals. “There is a lot of interest on both sides of the issue,” LeMahieu said. “… It is great to have these listening sessions and hear people’s opinions.”
His office has continued to ignore the issue and has chosen to remain uneducated while sticking to prohibition as the ideal model set forth by the federal government.
With 1 out of every 722 people in Sheboygan County being arrested for marijuana, you would think decriminalization of marijuana would be something this Senator would be willing to consider………..
Senate District 11 (R) Stephen Nass, Grade: (Opposed / voted no to hemp) F Voting NO to hemp along side Sentor Stroebel gives a clue into the mind of the legislator. Dismissing public polling and district support seals the deal on Senator Nass failing grade for consecutive sessions.
Senate District 13 Vacant (Former Fitzgearld) – ALL SIX (6) CANDIDATES IN THE RACE SUPPORT MEDICAL MARIJUANA REFORM!
Senate District 15 (D) Janis Ringhand, Grade: (Medical) B- Senator Ringhand (D-Evansville) has co-sponsored the Grow Your Own/Smoking Medical Marijuana Bipartisan bill, but has remained “undecided” about recreational marijuana and has not co-sponsor any decriminalization measures this session. As Minority Caucus Vice Chair in the Senate, her lack of support for recreational marijuana hurts the already conservative Senate and does not set the best tone for the Democratic Caucus in general.
Senate District 17 (R) Howard Marklein, Grade: (Opposed but gives a maybe to limited medical) F After serving 10 years in the legislature, Republican Senator Marklein has not really moved on his stance. He must not have been entertained enough because he did not even co-sponsor the Republican bill to create a medical marijuana program for Wisconsin. Senate Bill 683 does not allow home growing of marijuana or marijuana smoking products. Vetted and supported by the Caucus, if Senator Marklein was a leader he would have supported this measure. If Senator Marklein cared about the sick, dying and disabled of his district that benefit from medical marijuana, he would have done more.
Senate District 19 (R) Roger Roth, Grade: F (Poised to take Fitzgerald’s lead on the Just Say No Campaign)
The youngest Senate President ever in Wisconsin and a veteran. Marijuana reform is not always generational as this young man does not even want to talk about it. Senator Roger Roth (R-Appleton) has ignored veterans, patients, doctors, activists, voters, colleagues and even friends on the issue to deserve his F grade.
He is poised to replace Senator Fitzgerald and watch over the just say no campaign to marijuana reform in the Wisconsin Republican Senate.
Senate District 21 (R) Van Wanggaard, Grade: (Opposed) F
Republican Senator Wanggaard from Racine has not co-sponsored any legislation on marijuana reform since elected in 2010 and most likely will not move is stance of “just say no”. After coming off a nearly 30 year career with the Racine police force, he now serves as the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety. In April 2019 he wrote an entire op ed piece entitled Is it high time to legalize in Wisconsin? No … The harmful effects on health and society outweigh any potential benefits
During 2019, the Assembly Republicans prefiled a bill for the 2020 legislative session to create a medical marijuana program in Wisconsin (Senate Bill 683) which he failed to co-sponsor. Previous legislative sessions adult use and decriminalization bills have failed to advance to even a public hearing under his watch and he is poised to do the same in the 2019-2020 session for Adult Use SB 377 and Decriminalization SB 577.
Senate District 23 (R) Kathy Bernier, Grade: (Legal/Medical/Decriminalization) A Her goal is to get a public hearing on the issue of medical marijuana for the 2019-2020 session. That is the first step in Wisconsin. Senator Bernier has taken more than first steps supporting marijuana reform. In 2017 she was an Assembly Representative and one of the first Republicans in a long time to support marijuana reform by sponsoring a decriminalization bill. Now in 2020, she is the lead in the Republican controlled Senate trying to navigate a bill through committee. The first marijuana reform bill of the 2021-22 session comes in the form of decriminalization with Senator Bernier as the Senate lead author. She deserves and A for effort alone!
Senate District 25 (D) Janet Bewley, Grade: (Decriminalization) D- In 2018 the City of Superior decriminalized small amounts of marijuana and the City of Ashland approved measures about declaring a resolution to support both medical and recreational cannabis. The Democrat Assistant Senate Minority Leader did not sponsor any legislation on marijuana reform in 2019-2020. Senator Janet Bewley was close to failing this session.
Senate District 27 (D) Jon Erpenbach, Grade: (Medical) B Long time medical marijuana legislative lead in the Democratic Senate.
Senate District 29 (R) Jerry Petrowski, Grade: (Unknown/Uncommitted) F; Long time Republican Senator Petrowski from Marathon did not co-sponsor the Republican legislation to create a medical marijuana program SB 683. Referendums in 2018 in Senator Petrowski district supported medical marijuana.
Senate District 31 (D) Jeff Smith, Grade: (Legal/Medical/Decrim) A Senator Smith sponsored both Adult Use / Recreational Marijuana and the medical marijuana bill that would allow home grows and smoking products for patients. He did not sponsor the decriminalizatin measure. He still gets an A for all he is doing.
Senate District 33 (R) Chris Kapenga, Grade: (Opposed) F Senator Chris Kapenga is a Republican from Delafield and holds the Vice-Chair position on the Senate Committee that is currently blocking even the Republican version of a medical marijuana bill (SB 750) from a public hearing. Senator Kapenga has consisting failed his constituency on cannabis reform and earns him another sesssion with a F rating.
With over 58% of the 2021-22 Senators on record for some sort of marijuana reform, now is the time to get these people to work together on the issue by forming The Wisconsin Cannabis Caucus and making marijuana a priority for the upcoming legislative session. There is opposition in the Senate no doubt, but the opposition is in the minority and they are on their last legs of standing up for prohibition. The writing is on the wall and they know it, we can worry about voting them out in 2022. Right now we need the supporters to stand up and act like the majority they are and immediately pass medical cannabis legislation into law.