On April 14th, 2022 Senator Melissa Agard sent out an email entitled “Important Cannabis Update”. In the email she provided some great public hearing 101 information, a summary of the medical marijuana bill being addressed at the hearing, offered her full legalization of cannabis bill as a comparison, and indicated she plans to testify against Senate Bill1034.

Senator Agard deserves a high amount of credit. Under her efforts and for the first time in the history of Wisconsin legislation, a majority of the Democratic Senate has signed onto her bill as either an author or co-sponsor in 2021-22. The Senate Democratic Caucus is comprised of 12 members (Republicans hold 21 seats). This sent a clear message to the Democratic Minority Leadership that full legalization was indeed a priority, no matter what they thought. Her bill has yet to attract a Republican co-sponsor.

We here at the network would just add that while the medical marijuana bill is far from perfect – passing the full legalization bill or at least holding a public hearing on that subject would be ideal – this is a huge step forward, especially in a GOP dominated legislature, and that it’s self-defeating to oppose it outright.

Additionally the 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?

Here is the email:

Dear Friends and Neighbors, 

As you may have heard, the Wisconsin State Senate Committee on Insurance, Licensing and Forestry will be holding a public hearing on Senate Bill 1034 relating to medical marijuana on Wednesday, April 20th.

Wisconsin is far, far behind when it comes to legalizing cannabis– but this legislation does not do nearly enough to address the wrongs caused by cannabis prohibition. It is an incredibly restrictive medicinal bill.

While I am encouraged that this legislation will allow folks to testify at a public hearing, it is extremely disappointing that we had 15 months of session in which we could have rolled up our sleeves, worked in a bipartisan manner, and taken steps forward for full legalization

For the second straight session, legislative Republicans have introduced a late session, politically motivated bill to try and fool the people of Wisconsin into thinking they are genuine about legalization. Having a public hearing after session has already been gaveled out is a cynical political ploy that gives people false hope about the prospects of this legislation.

I do encourage you, if you are able, to testify at this public hearing to share your thoughts with the committee on legalization in Wisconsin. The rest of this newsletter provides additional information on how to testify at a public hearing and FAQs on Senate Bill 1034. 

On 4/20, I will be testifying against this legislation, because I know that Wisconsin needs full legalization, and this legislation falls drastically short of the steps forward that we need.

We’re in this together, folks, and I appreciate your support for legalization. 

In Service, 

Melissa Agard.

Testifying at a Public Hearing 101
First, remember: you can do this. It is a legislator’s job to pay attention when someone takes time out of their day to attend or testify at a public hearing. You are their bosses — your voice is important in this process. 

Let’s start with the basics.

What: Committee on Insurance, Licensing and Forestry – Public Hearing on Senate Bill 1034 RE: Medical Marijuana
Where: State Capitol, Room 412 East
When: Wednesday, April 20, 2022, 10:00 AM

Dress
Dress professionally when possible.  You don’t need a new suit, but neat attire is appropriate. 

Electronics
Bring chargers for your phone. External battery chargers are especially helpful as outlets can be limited in the hearing room. Set your phone to silent mode while in the hearing room.

Parking
A map of the City of Madison parking ramps near the Capitol is HERE. While there are 1 hour parking spots on the square, these often fill up quickly so a ramp may be your best bet. 

Food & Water
Bring quiet snacks and a water bottle. Remember that if you are called to testify and are not present, you will not be able to speak.

Testimony Sign-Up
There will be sign-up slips at the entrance to 412 East. You will have to indicate whether you would like to speak on the bill or simply register in support or against. As this bill may gather a large number of people wishing to testify, be prepared to wait. It is up to the committee chair as to the rules on the testimony processing. Depending on the number of attendees they may limit each person’s testimony to a certain time limit. 

Tips on Testimony
Be concise and clear in your message. Tell the committee members whether or not you support the bill and why. If you would like to suggest fixes to the bill, let them know what you’d like to see changed. Write out your testimony or give yourself an outline. Be professional, thank the committee members, and let them know you are happy to take questions. Bring printed copies of testimony for committee members if possible.

Can’t Make It? Contact Your Legislators to Share Your Thoughts
Don’t worry if you cannot attend the public hearing! Be proactive and reach out to your state legislators to share your thoughts on this bill and legalization in general. You can also send testimony to committee members and cc our office on the email at Sen.Agard@legis.wi.gov.

Find your state legislators to contact HERE.
republican-medical-marijuana-bill-vs-democrats-agard-sargent-full-legalization
Medical Marijuana Bill: Senate Bill 1034 – FAQs
Under the bill, who would run the medical marijuana program? 
The bill establishes the Medical Marijuana Regulatory Commission which would be under the purview of the Department of Revenue. The members of the commission would be made up of political appointees serving staggered 6-year terms.

Could the marijuana prescribed by a physician come in any form?
No, the bill specifies that the medical marijuana must be in the form of a liquid, oil, pill, or tincture or in a form that is applied topically

Who could prescribe medical marijuana? 
Physicians, physician assistants, and certified advanced practice nurse prescribers. The medical professionals are required to apply for certification from the political appointees on the Medical Marijuana Regulatory Commission. The medical professionals must also submit all the recommendations for prescriptions to the Commission. 

Would anyone be barred from entering the industry? 
An applicant to become a producer, processor, etc. who has been convicted of a controlled substance offense may not obtain a license if the applicant. 

Could someone convicted of a past marijuana-related offense work at a dispensary? 
No, any dispensary employee may not have been convicted of a controlled substance offense.

Does the bill stop employees from being punished for marijuana usage, even if they are registered with the medical marijuana program? 
No, the bill continues to allow employers to punish (and test) employees for marijuana usage. It also continues to bar employees from accessing unemployment insurance if they are terminated due to testing positive for marijuana. 

Are there provisions in the bill that give preference to Wisconsin businesses? 
No.

Are there provisions in the bill that give preference to Wisconsin farmers for growing marijuana?
No. 

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