Back in January 2021, I did an article entitled WISPOLITICS.COM VIRTUAL LUNCHEONS SHOULD ADDRESS MARIJUANA REFORM. The purpose of the article was to highlight as the 2021-22 Wisconsin Legislation cycle begins, to expect a lot of virtual meetings, town halls and forums. I reminded activists to use them as your opportunity to engage your elected officials. One of the events was a forum conducted by WisPolitics.com speaking with the Democratic Minority Leaders.
I suggested with the Democratic Leaders we need them to take a united front and consider a few things this legislation session; 1) Use this session as an opportunity to highlight the fact for the past 10 years the Republicans are the obstacle to reform, 2) Do not submit legislation unless it is bi-partisan and/or do not submit any legislation at all and put the pressure on the Republican Caucus to come up with a bill, 3) Have 100% of the Democratic Caucus co-sponsor the medical marijuana bill and decriminalization bill the Republicans come up with to avoid the “circus” of a public hearing that Vos so much fears.
A few news articles came from the WisPolitics.com Forum that touched only on a few statements made in the almost 5 minute long conversation about cannabis with minority leaders Rep. Hintz and Senator Bewley. I archived the video below and cued it to start at 29:20.
The question poised is “Could medical marijuana pass as a stand alone bill this session?
Senator Bewley seems to think so, stating that nationwide all states have to deal with it now, but/and, yep, she give a but/and…. listen for yourself. She indicates medical marijuana is widely accepted with 80% approval and she ends her portion by stating “We will be seeing something happen.“
Rep Hintz on the other hand “does not know if he see’s it passing“. Stating something like he is an incrementalist and would like to see a public hearing to get some questions answered, explain to some folks that do not understand. He does acknowledge attitudes and responses are changing and that there are more benefits than costs. At times it is unclear if Hintz is talking about medical marijuana or the total legalization Gov. Evers proposed.
Either way, it would be nice to see these two minority leaders sign onto all marijuana reform legislation this session, but we already know that will not happen as so far Rep. Hintz has indicated he will not co-sponsor Assembly Bill 130 – Decriminalization of 10 grams and Senator Bewleys track record speaks for herself, as she failed to co-sponsor any marijuana legislation last session.
The news reported on a few other statements made, mostly by Hintz. What the news reported caught my attention and gave me the headline idea. I know Gordon Hintz is a supporter of reform and has been the most outspoken Assembly Minority Leader on the issue, but that does not mean the party as a whole has developed a comprehensive strategy to advance reform under the Republican controlled legislature. Maybe I am wrong and maybe they do have a strategy, eyes are on both parties again this session and time will tell. Again, I urge you to listen and watch their interview below.
Here is the news article I referenced:
Democratic leaders in the Wisconsin legislature think the state may be edging closer to legalizing medical marijuana.
State Senate Minority Leader Janet Bewley (did not sponsor any legislation on marijuana reform in 2019-2020) (D-Mason) told WisPolitics on Thursday that she thinks a standalone bill to legalize medical cannabis could pass. “I believe it could pass as a standalone, but for now it’s in the budget.”
Assembly Minority Leader Gordon Hintz (co-sponsored medical marijuana with home grows in 2019-20) (D-Oshkosh) credits Governor Tony Evers for elevating the issue.
“I’m glad that he’s put it out there, I think the proposal alone accelerates the discussion,” Hintz told WisPolitics. “And I think we will eventually get there. I just don’t know if it’s in the next six months or the next decade.”
Republicans on the legislature’s budget panel have already rejected legalization through the budget process.
Hintz said he’s discussed the legalization issue with officials in Colorado, where cannabis was legalized in a 2012 referendum. He said the consensus there is that a greater public education effort would have been helpful prior to the start of legal marijuana sales.
“There’s still a lot of people in the state that have had no exposure, no understanding, to who the proposal just sounds so radical, based on their 11th grade health class in the early 70’s,” Hintz said.
Republicans on the legislature’s budget panel have already rejected Governor Tony Evers’ proposed legalization through the budget process.
“I certainly don’t think that kind of a topic should be in as part of the budget, this session anyway,” state Senator Howard Marklein (R-Spring Green) said last month.