The decriminalization bill for the 2023-24 legislation session is currently being circulated. Do not dig too deep into this. We will be providing some additional analysis and updates as we go. But right now, we need people in the fields to make some noise about co-sponsoring this decriminalization bill, especially in Republican districts.
The bill would make simple possession of cannabis up to 14 grams punishable by a $100 civil forfeiture and without the threat of jail time a the state level. Currently the civil forfeiture is only implemented at municipal and county levels, as this option is not available for the state. The bill does not change the current law that allows local governments discretion in the forfeiture amount (if any) imposed for possession of more than 14 grams of marijuana or how the local governments make level of enforcement priority decisions about marijuana laws, including this proposed change.
In addition, the bill would also stop courts from “counting” possession convictions involving up to 28 grams. The intention is for people not be charged as repeat offenders who could face more serious penalties.
The bill also lowers the penalty for paraphernalia possession to $10. It would also limit the liability for employers who choose to not drug test prospective employees for THC.
Governor Evers included legalization and taxation of cannabis in the budget, which was ultimately removed. Democrats presented a legalization bill which no Republican has co-sponsored yet. The legalization bill is “stuck” in committee and it is likely that this decriminalization bill will receive the same committee assignment. The medical marijuana bill has yet to surface this session, but is highly expected.
This decriminalization bill, although not perfect is a good first step. If the bill is Republican led and vetted by the GOP caucus, the bill should receive a public hearing, but we are not there yet.
The new decriminalization bill is most likely headed to the same committee(s) if history repeats itself. So we either need leadership to move the legalization bills into more friendly committee(s) or send the decriminalization bill(s) to a friendly committee right from the start.
If you look at all the committee assignments and members, it may not be as easy as it sounds to pick one committee in each house and label that one the friendliest. Since Senator Felzkowski is going to lead the Republican medical bill again and most likely her bill will go to her committee, we should request that the decriminalization bills be sent to either the decriminalization bill author(s) committee(s) or Felzkowksi committee (Senate) and dump all the cannabis bills on her lap!
LRB-0510 is currently being circulated for co-sponsorship. Please contact your elected representatives today and ask them co-sponsor LRB-0510.