Competing medical marijuana bills are in session again for the close of the 2022 legislation cycle. Even though the legislature has adjourned, the Republican Committee Chair and author of medical marijuana legislation has scheduled a public hearing for:
April 20th, 2022 at 10am in 412 East.
State Capitol Building, 2 E Main St, Madison, WI
It does not appear that this will be a joint public hearing with the Assembly Committee on Health. It also does not appear that Senator Felzkowski has scheduled the Democrats bill to be included in this public hearing.
Medical marijuana could be the compromise, but…
Republicans regurgitated their big pharma, no smoking, no home grows “medical marijuana bill” from last session. There were some additional co-sponsors brought along by the GOP reformers, with a total of 18 co-sponsors in the Republican Assembly on this bill. That 18 number is huge in my opinion, and a few other Republicans previously signed on, so the support in the GOP is certainly growing fast.
My gripe would be that if you did not significantly change the language from last session, then why are you waiting until the session is almost over before submitting this bill? It should have been submitted like the first decriminalization bill, it should have been put out before the budget! We should have had this public hearing in 2021 while law makers were in session, not a month after they adjourned.
I will admit, Senate Leadership came on strong in this session saying they were not going to advance any legislation regarding cannabis. The industrial hemp program was not funded by the Republican budget and they sent that whole program to the USDA. According to insiders, leadership in the Republican camp made it very clear that they were not going to advance any marijuana reform, as it would be perceived as a win for Governor Evers.
Republicans went one step further and it seems they have put forth the least amount of legislation for Governor Evers to sign. They are doing this so that in a few months, Republicans can twist that fact into some campaign smear that Governor Evers signed the least amount of legislation as a governor.
Democrat sponsored bill is better for Wisconsin patients!
The Democrats countered with their version of a medical marijuana program that is a little more patient focused, allows smoking products, and will allow for patient/caregiver home grows. The Democrat bill has attracted many Republicans in past sessions, so there is a record of some Republicans who support smoking medical marijuana, and are okay with allowing patients to grow their own.
My gripe with the Democrats would be not using a different strategy this session. The Democrats should have had a 100% co-sponsorship by their own caucus on the Republican bill. This would have said something. Doing the math, 38 Democrats in addition to the 18 Republicans listed as co-sponsors give this piece of legislation 56 votes, enough votes to pass! See where I am going with this?
Public Hearing – Now is our time!
Now is our chance to show up and testify about validity of the Republicans bill and speak about medical marijuana in general. Public hearings are a very important part of the process. The last time a public hearing on medical marijuana in Wisconsin was in 2009.
Although the Democrats version of medical cannabis legislation will not officially be on the docket for this public hearing, many aspects of that bill and medical marijuana in general will be discussed.
Looking ahead to 2023
If this bill does not move, will it be back again next session? Senator Felzkowski is not up for re-election in 2022 so it is highly likely she will be here. If Felzkowski is back, will this bill be the first bill she submits in 2023 or the last of 2024?
On March 9th, 2022 Senator Felzkowski sat down for a video interview with Newsmakers Host Lisa Pugh for a cannabis conversation. (Podcast Link). I am not sure of the Senators fuzzy math skills with 15 yes votes in the Senate, but it does show how important the upcoming election in 2022 were half of the Wisconsin Senate will be up for re-election.
The video is worth watching for sure, especially if you plan to testify at the public hearing on April 20th. Nothing says something about a politician more than when you can see them say their words, and when you can see them hide the words they want to say. Watch it – I will archive it here when I am able.