For a small city of over 5,000 people, Berlin has maintained a steady pace of cannabis news over the last decade. Located in Green Lake County Wisconsin, Berlin was the site of the 2010 THC Tour, helping educate the community on the need for supporting cannabis reform. The THC Tour brought in several specialty speakers on a variety of topics. This Expo was held shortly after the 2009 Joint Committee Public Hearing on medical marijuana legislation. That legislation did not pass and Wisconsin Republicans gained control shortly after and have not addressed the issue in a public hearing for over a decade.
Despite Republican objections to changing the laws, regional leaders from several northern Wisconsin counties gathered together in Berlin at a meeting for The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws regional chapter, Northern Wisconsin NORML, which spawned off a variety of local activism efforts throughout the state.
Local ordinances decriminalizing cannabis possession, making personal possession the least priority for law enforcement or setting the fine for possession at $1 has been a continued strategy and great way for cannabis activists to keep at reform and make positive change locally. The local laws have progressed so far that in 2017 the City of Monona reformed cannabis laws to the point people actually relocated to this municipality for that reason. The same thing happened up in Door County, when Sturgeon Bay when the city council slashed marijuana fines so drastically, that if you’re caught with less than one ounce of marijuana in your home, you no longer owe a fine.
City of Berlin Council Member Joel Bruessel took notice of these trends throughout the state and expected a high turnout for a 2019 city council meeting in which he proposed legalizing cannabis in the city of Berlin.
“As far as I know we’d be the first city in the country to do something like this,” Berlin city council member Joel Bruessel said.
Bruessel wants to legalize recreational marijuana use in Berlin and brought it to the agenda at the Committee of the Whole Tuesday night.
“We’ve been talking about ways to raise income for the city. We’ve got limitations from the state on what we can do tax-wise and other things, so I was looking for other options and this to me seemed like an obvious one,” Bruessel said.
The proposed ordinance written by Bruessel would allow people 21 and older to consume marijuana and have six mature plants. Berlin residents would also be able to possess 8 ounces of marijuana and 72 ounces of edibles.
The ordinance for the city of Berlin did not pass, but that has not stopped progress.
Possession of cannabis on private property has been legal in Madison since 1977. Let that sink in. The City of Madison took some steps in the Fall of 2020 to again reform the laws even further, leaving some questions about the future possibilities in the city limits. Washington D.C. is legal and our State Capitol is basically legal, so all of our law makers travel to, work and play in a city with relaxed marijuana laws, yet Wisconsin lacks behind the nation on state legislation to do the same….. it just does not make sense.
The 2020 State Assembly Election for the City of Berlin area yielded some support for reform as Republican Alex Dallman indicated support for decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana for personal possession. I ran for this seat in 2010 as an Independent with emphasis on hemp cannabis reform. At that time we had not yet passed a Wisconsin CBD law or Industrial Hemp Law. I learned that the 41st Assembly District had never been represented by a Democrat, which Republicans carrying the district by considerable margins each cycle since Wisconsin became a state.
So that bring us to today and back to the small town of Berlin, Wisconsin with the announcement that Joel Bruessel is running for Mayor in the spring election. Should he win the the election for Mayor, we highly expect cannabis reform be be back into the conversation for the City of Berlin. Thank you Joel Bruessel!