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Evers proposes legalizing marijuana in Wisconsin

Wisconsin Marijuana Legalization

MADISON (WLUK) — Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers’ 2021-23 budget proposal proposes regulating and taxing marijuana.

For Wisconsin, the topic of legalizing marijuana is not a new one.

Jay Selthofner grows hemp on his farm in Green Lake County and grows marijuana in Michigan where it is legal. He’s been following the state’s debate over marijuana for more than a decade.

“If we look historically at marijuana reform in Wisconsin, we’ve had a decade of conversations about marijuana reform or legislation introduced,” said Selthofner.

Legalization could make Wisconsin the 16th state to legalize marijuana recreationally. Neighboring states, Illinois and Michigan, have already done so. It is legal for medical use in Minnesota.

“We’re wasting resources and we’re not collecting tax revenue and we’re losing jobs,” said Selthofner. “So, it hurts Wisconsin in every single way.”

The Evers administration predicts it could bring in more than $165 million annually beginning in the 2023 fiscal year, along with more jobs.

“Illinois collects a tax on it. And that tax that Wisconsin is collecting on it is some sort of fine or cost to society or cost to taxpayers. It just doesn’t make sense personally,” said Selthofner.

When asked if he thinks this proposal would pass, Selthofner said, “no, no way. Nothing is easy under this particular political climate.”

Selthofner thinks the road to recreational legalization would need more support from Republicans to pass.

Republican State Rep. Rachel Cabral-Guevara supports legalization. She believes some may be surprised at how many other GOP representatives may support it.

“There are some folks who are 100% opposed to it, but there are many who have changed their views and would be supportive of medicinal and open to recreational use,” said Cabral Guevara.

In 2019, Rep. Mary Felzkowski and State Sen. Kathy Bernier pushed to legalize it medicinally.

In that same year, the Marquette University Law Poll found nearly 60% of Wisconsinites support legalization of marijuana. Eighty-three percent support legalization of medicinal marijuana.

“I’m a nurse practitioner and I know that I have many patients that utilize marijuana from things like depression, anxiety and pain management,” said Cabral Guevara.

However, organizations like Mothers Against Drunk Driving do not take a stance on legalization of drugs. They feel more research is needed.

M.A.D.D. President, Alex Otte said, “in some states where it has been legalized states have reported higher crash numbers. We really need consistent testing and reporting on the effects of legalization on marijuana and impaired driving crashes”

In Governor Ever’s proposal he says the purchasing and taxing of marijuana would be similar to regulations in place for alcohol.

Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos recently said he supported legalizing medical marijuana but not recreational marijuana. He indicated the issue should be addressed separately from the state budget. Two years ago Governor Evers proposed legalizing medical marijuana as part of his state budget. At the time, the Republican controlled legislature rejected the idea.

Under the proposal marijuana would be regulated similarly to how the state regulates and taxes alcohol.

It would be regulated by the Department of Revenue and the Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection.

The proposal would require the sale of marijuana for recreational use to be sold by a marijuana retailer holding a permit issued by the Department of Revenue.

Wisconsin residents would be prohibited from possessing more than two ounces of marijuana and limited to six plants for personal use.

Source: Fox 11 News – Green Bay – There is also a “Marijuana Poll” embedded into the original article on Fox News. As of 2/24/2021 92% of people responding supporting legalization.

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