Democratic Senator Jon Erpenbach and Assembly Representative Dianne Hesselbein have circulated a memo to fellow legislators to co-sponsor LRB 5891, a patient focused medical cannabis bill. Unlike the Republican medical marijuana bill, the Democrat bill does not tax medicine, allows smoking products and allows home growing. The proposals are as different as night and day.
Without the true formation of The Wisconsin Cannabis Caucus, it seems we will be stuck with competing partisan medical marijuana bills. As this session winds down, the chance for even a public hearing is slim. Republican past committee chairs have never taken action and all hold the same committee chair seats they have held for years. Republican leadership has not put pressure on committee chairs to act on this important issue.
Before the partisan medical marijuana bill was presented by Republicans, the Democrat bill attracted Republicans in past sessions, so there is a record of some Republicans supporting smoking medical marijuana and are okay with allowing patients to grow their own. The question is will they re-emerge as co-sponsors to this initiative again this session?
The co-sponsorship memo says:
For many sessions, Democrats have introduced medical cannabis legislation that recognizes that people shouldn’t have to engage in a criminal act to access medicine for debilitating conditions. It also recognizes the need to regulate the industry in order to provide a safe, legal path for people to obtain that medicine.
Democrats recognize that people don’t want or need politicians dictating what form that medicine comes in or creating unnecessary, politically appointed entities to delay their care.
LRB-5981 creates a tightly regulated process that requires a recommendation from a treating physician with whom a patient with a debilitating condition has an established relationship. The bill also requires the Department of Health Services to create and maintain a registry system, and requires the Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection to create a licensing system for growers, producers, and sellers to ensure safety and quality. It also makes certain that regardless of where you live, even if it is not near a dispensary, that you can access legally available medicine.
There are a number of Midwest states, including Michigan, Illinois, and Minnesota that have passed laws legalizing medical cannabis. Wisconsin has the opportunity to join these states in creating its own framework to provide treatment options to those who need it. This bill represents over 10 years of work, takes its cues from patients and adopts best practices from the experiences of other states.
Medical Cannabis is legal in 37 states and a 2019 poll showed it had 83% support among Wisconsinites.
Use the Action Alert below to urge your elected officials to co-sponsor this important piece of legislation.