Wisconsin Discusses legalizing marijuana

Article originally appeared here: https://www.nbc15.com/2021/02/07/gov-evers-proposes-legalizing-recreational-marijuana-in-wisconsin/

MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) – Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers wants the state to legalize marijuana for recreational purposes.

On Sunday morning, the governor’s office announced he would include the initiative in his upcoming 2021-23 biennial budget. In a statement, he compared the coming proposal to the regulations in neighboring Illinois and Michigan.

“Frankly, red and blue states across the country have moved forward with legalization and there is no reason Wisconsin should be left behind when we know it’s supported by a majority of Wisconsinites,” Evers said.

The Evers Administration pointed to a study by Marquette University that found six in ten Wisconsinites would back legalizing marijuana for recreational purposes, while a full 83 percent support medicinal marijuana.

Recreational marijuana is currently legal in 15 states and in D.C., while 16 states have decriminalized recreational use at various levels.

Late last year, the Madison Common Council voted to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana in the city. The changes included allowing people 18 and older to use or possess up to 28 grams of cannabis on public and private property, as long as they have the permission of the property owner, landlord, or tenant.

WHO COULD BUY IT?

Under the governor’s plan, certain caps would remain on the possession or sale of marijuana.

  • Individuals would need to be 21 years old to buy marijuana;
  • All sales to minors would be prohibited;
  • Wisconsin residents would be allowed to posses up to two ounces of marijuana and up to six plants for personal use;
  • People who do not live in Wisconsin would not be allowed to possess more than a quarter ounce of it.

The proposal would also require any marijuana processor or microbusiness that operates as a processor to produce a usable product using marijuana grown outside of Wisconsin.

WHERE DOES THE MONEY GO?

The Evers Administration’s plan would give the responsibility for taxing and regulating the marijuana industry to the Dept. of Revenue and the Dept. of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection. His office compared it to how alcohol is regulated today.

The Evers Administration is arguing that legalizing marijuana will increase revenue, create jobs, and ease the burden on the criminal justice system.

The governor’s office estimated legalization would raise more than $165 million per year in revenue, starting in the second year of the budget. Evers explained he would like to see nearly half of that number ($80 million) set aside for a new community reinvestment fund. He would also like to see approximately $34 million go toward supporting small, rural school districts.

“Legalizing and taxing marijuana in Wisconsin—just like we do already with alcohol—ensures a controlled market and safe product are available for both recreational and medicinal users and can open the door for countless opportunities for us to reinvest in our communities and create a more equitable state,” said Gov. Evers added.

Currently, both recreational and medicinal marijuana are illegal in Wisconsin, however CBD oil is allowed.

Evers will introduce his formal budget on Feb. 16.

A similar effort by Evers was proposed in his previous 2019-21 budget, but failed to make it through the legislature.

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