Marijuana legalization is on the ballot in three counties and five municipalities for the 2022 November Election. Like the earlier 2022 spring referendum in Ashland, these referendum all focus on recreational marijuana. The City of Ashland referendum passed by a good majority and I have a hunch many of these will pass with high margins.
Dane, Milwaukee and Eau Claire counties are asking voters if they want marijuana legalized for those aged 21 and up. The Milwaukee County Referendum is worded exactly the same as the 2018 referendums. No doubt Milwaukee designed it this way to gauge the increasing support for regulation of cannabis. The question in all three counties also asks if voters want to regulate the drug the same way alcohol is regulated. Milwaukee and Eau Claire ask if voters also want to tax marijuana sales.
Dane County is very progressive on the issue and weed is basically legal there, although they do not have retail stores. Dane County will ask voters if they want all previous possession convictions for small amounts of marijuana expunged. Dane County voters already approved medical and adult-use legalization questions in 2010, 2014 and 2018 with approval ranging from 64.5 percent to 76.4 percent.
Eau Claire County
Eau Claire County is serious about passing the 2022 marijuana referendum with even more support than in 2018, when they passed a referendum by 54% for legalization of recreational marijuana. The Vote Yes Eau Claire website and facebook page have been set up to help with this latest initiative. Northern Wisconsin NORML has a UW-Eau Claire student volunteer assisting with ground efforts.
Milwaukee County has some pull to it for sure being the largest county by population. The 2018 referendum on legalization passed with 70% support. How many additional votes will turn out and what will be done with the data from 2022? It remains to be seen, but Milwaukee County did make simple marijuana possession a $1 fine and it is about time municipalities with the county do the same. Perhaps this latest 2022 referendum passing will spur some more movement locally on the decriminalization factor.
Five Cities will ask voters
The cities of Superior, Stevens Point, Racine, Appleton and Kenosha are asking voters if they want to legalize, tax and regulate marijuana for adult use in the same way alcohol is taxed, regulated and legal for adults.
As for Stevens Point, the city council recently revised a 2015 decriminalization ordinance further lower the fine and raising the possession limits. The $5 fine plus court costs for personal possession of 25 grams is nothing close to legalization, but voters are going to be asked Should marijuana be legalized for adult-use, taxed, and regulated like alcohol in the State of Wisconsin?
Derek Ertel from Green Thumb Alternatives on Main Street in Downtown Stevens Point on the Square advocated for the change and helped with the 2018 Portage County Marijuana Referendum. He plans to continue to promote awareness and said to stop by store where the grass is always greener. Follow Green Thumb Alternatives on Facebook for more information.
The Appleton Advisory Marijuana Referendum is expected to be one to watch for sure. There are some close races in both the Senate and Assembly for that area, including the Senate District 19 race between Appleton City Council Member Kristin Alfheim (D) and Rachael Cabral-Guevara (R). Both candidates have expressed support for regulation of cannabis. Alfheim was a major supporter of reform at the local level and worked to get the 2022 referendum on the ballot. Cabral-Guevara was the only Republican to co-sponsor the medical marijuana bill presented by Democrats in 2022.
We expect some new faces in the elected body representing the City of Appleton. Outagamie County did not get the 2018 proposed referendum on the ballot and voters are anxious to express their support. While field activists targeted this area for almost a decade now, progress was slow. A small victory has achieved in 2020 when the City of Appleton decriminalized marijuana further by lowering the fine for personal possession. Not only is the referendum expected to drive some turnout to the polls, but it just maybe the catalyst for the next elected officials to represent the city to take more action, especially if they are Republican. Should marijuana be legalized for use by those 21 and over, taxed, and regulated like alcohol in the State of Wisconsin? is what is going to be asked to the voters in the City of Appleton.
The city of Superior has made the marijuana news more than a few times. Notable was in 2018 when the city council that represents about 26,000 people unanimously decriminalized marijuana. Again in the 2022 the word unanimous shows up in the news when the city council voted to place an advisory referendum on the ballot.
Of course there are some heated election battles up north in Douglas County area as Assembly Rep. Nick Milroy (D) leaves, Laura Gapske (D) and Angie Sapik (R) battle it out. The Gapske vs Sapik is just another example of a State Assembly race in which both candidates support legalization.
Looking at the Senate District that Superior is in we see long time obstacle to legalization efforts in the Democrat leadership not seeking re-election. Bye Bey Bewley. Senator Janet Bewley (D) is a distant memory and Kelly Westlund (D) is seeking the office. Westlund has marijuana reform as a high priority for her campaign, which is a complete opposite of former Senator Bewley. A familiar name in the Republican Party is back and seeking this seat also. Romaine Quinn (R) is not the worst Republican on the issue and seems to be hung up the most on possible driving impairment issues that he perceives comes along with legalization.
Back in 2018 Racine residents had 7 different marijuana questions to answer during the referendum process. The city and county each offering different versions in a tiered fashion did not confuse anyone and all referendums passed with what most consider an overwhelming majority. The 2022 Referendum is a yes-or-no question and will state: “Should marijuana be legalized for adult-use, taxed and regulated like alcohol?”
Look at the State Assembly race in this area also as progress is happening. Democrat Greta Neubauer responded to the 2018 referendums positively and in the 2021-22 session she did co-sponsor the bill to legalize adult use recreational marijuana. The GOP gerrymandered states to their favor means they give up some seats directly to the Democrats as throw away seats. This assembly district seems to be one of those type districts to the Republicans because they ran no candidate against Neubauer (D). But I would like to point out in the GOP forfeit of this seat, a Libertarian emerges in Carl Hutton, who also supports the legalization of marijuana. So in the analysis of all candidates in the 2022 election, the City of Racine gets two notches in the belt and we expect a big win for the referendum in the city come November 8th.
In 2018 Kenosha County had 88% support for medical marijuana on a referendum. Will the different wording / focus of the 2022 referendum and voters just in the City of Kenosha dramatically change the outcome of of the 2022 referendum? Kyle Flood from Kenosha Residents for Cannabis Reform does not think so. He feels support for this initiative is very high and activity around the referendum is flooding in. He said to give the Facebook Page a like/follow and message it should you like to help with this final push before November 8th.
Also as part of the 2022 election coverage, we take a closer look at the 2022 State Senate Candidates , 2022 State Assembly Candidates, 2022 Wisconsin Federal Candidates and their stance on marijuana reform in more detail.
My Vote Wisconsin is a website designed to help you register to vote, find your polling place, vote absentee, view a sample ballot, read referendum language and so much more. If you are a first time voter or need more information, the www.MyVote.WI.gov can be a valuable resource.