Senate Bill 790 – Decriminalization Committee Analysis

The Democrats comprehensive legislation addressing cannabis reform under an adult use / medical marijuana combination bill Senate Bill Number of 545 and the Republican partisan decriminalization Senate Bill 790 land in the same committee. Republican leadership picks what bills go to what committee.

This is a slight diversion from early this year when the first partisan decriminalization measure (AB 130/SB 164) landed and currently sits in the Senate Committee on Labor and Regulatory Reform. Senator Nass (R) is the chair of that committee, co-chaired by Wanggaard (R) with Stafsholt (R), Wirch (D) and Johnson (D) completing the committee.

What have they done already?

The legalization bill and this new decriminalization bill been assigned to the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety. This same committee is not afraid to hold public hearings on marijuana. In October 2021, Committee chair Sen. Van Wanggaard moved to recommend Senate Bill 440 (Butane Hash Oil Enhancer) for passage. The Republican controlled Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety voted 5-2 in favor of this bill. The two Democrats voted no. If this is any indication of what is coming, expect nothing. One of the BHO Bill co-sponsors did not know he even signed onto such foolishness, which shows the level of trust these politicians have in each other when asked to co-sponsor something.

What I expect is a few more Republicans to come of the closet supporting change in the way our state handles marijuana reform. I also expect the vocal Republicans supporting the issue to become much more strategic and little more pissed off that GOP leadership blocks reform as every possible chance they can.

The companion bills for both pieces of legislation are awaiting an assembly bill number and committee assignment. Review how a bill becomes law and it will help you see this is a marathon, not a sprint!

Here are the people controlling the fate of any legalization and decriminalization.

2021 Senate Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety Members:

Senator Wanngaard (R)

Senator Wanggaard (R) (Chair):

Telephone: (608) 266-1832, Email: Republican Senator from Racine has not co-sponsored any legislation on marijuana reform since elected in 2010 and most likely will not move his 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 2021-2022 session.

Senator Wanggaard is an author of Senate Bill 440 to increase penalties for manufacturing, distribution and use of butane hash oil (BHO) products which he passed out of this/his very own committee!

Senator Eric Wimberger (R)
Senator Eric Wimberger (R)

Senator Wimberger (R) (Vice-Chair):

Telephone: (608) 266-5670,

Wimberger ran in 2014 for State Assembly (and lost by 18% points). He also ran for the Wisconsin State Senate for District 30 in 2016 and only lost by 3% points. Wimberger will try for State Senate again in 2020 as the incumbent retires.

He joined the Political Radar crew to in 2016 to discuss several key issues that are emerging in Wisconsin. They discuss the viability of marijuana legalization in Wisconsin and its challenges. 

And now it is 2020 and “It is just a plant” came from Wimbergers lips.  What does that tell us?  Over the years this candidate has made several public statements about marijuana reform in interviews.

Senator Darling (R):

Telephone: (608) 266-5830, Email: She has held this Senate seat for nearly 30 years and held onto her prohibitionist position just as long.

Senator Jacque (R):

Telephone: (608) 266-3512, Email: As an Assembly Representative he ignored constituents on the issue starting back in 2010. As a Senator he repeats his past performance. Jacque is an author of Senate Bill 440 to increase penalties for manufacturing, distribution and use of butane hash oil (BHO) products. Senate Bill 440 is in this same committee and passed by a vote 5 Republicans to 2 Democrats.

Senator Julian Bradley
Senator Julian Bradley

Senator Bradley (R):

Telephone: (608) 266-5400, Email: Bradley comes out against recreational marijuana, but understands people turn to marijuana for medicinal purposes.

His concern is he wants to ensure it goes through the same process that any drug would before it is legalized for medicinal purposes and sent out to people.

He is not in favor of an over regulatory situation, but before people are taking a drug prescribed to them he would like to see that drug has cleared all hurdles.  – source July 30, 2020 candidate interview.

Senator L. Taylor (D)

(Co-Sponsor): Senator Lena Taylor has been a consistent and reliable sponsor of Adult Use, Medical Marijuana and Decriminalization.

Senator Roys (D)

(Co-Sponsor): In 2009, her first term in the Assembly, she co-authored a bill to legalize medical marijuana. She sponsored the same bill in her second term as well. Elected to the Senate in 2020 she commits her campaign promise to sponsor this bill.

Roys says “Adults should be free to use marijuana without fear of prosecution. We need to stop using our criminal justice resources to prosecute and incarcerate people for cannabis use. We can earn revenue, increase Wisconsin’s agricultural economy, and help stop the unequal enforcement that drives racial disparities in our criminal justice system. It’s time to legalize cannabis for recreational and medicinal use, and grow Wisconsin’s economy.” – source

Important Links

watch and track the 2021-22 Senate Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety:

We will track the progress and report on the Assembly Committee once the bill is assigned in the assembly. I predict the bill will go to the Assembly Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety again chaired by Rep. John Spiros. Read up on Spiros and tell me what you think.

The 15 member committee is a dynamic group! Of the five (5) Democrats on the committee all five are co-sponsors of legalization legislation. At first glance to the rest of committee on the Republican side, we have some Republican medical / decriminalization bill authors, a new guy, some definite no votes and some unknowns.

So, overall, it’s not horrible for decriminalization, but not the best for legalization by any means.

If you are not going to call or email these Republicans directly, at least use the form below to let these committee members know that now is the time to hold a public hearing on both SB 164 and SB 790,

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