Wisconsin governor vetoes bill that would criminalize cannabis extraction


Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D) has vetoed a Republican-supported bill that would have increased criminal penalties for citizens who extract cannabis using fuels like butane. The bill would have allowed cannabis extraction to be punishable by up to 15 years in prison. The governor opposes further criminalizing cannabis activities and instead wants to see the state legalize cannabis.

“I am vetoing this bill in its entirety because I object to creating additional criminal offenses or penalties related to marijuana use,” Evers said. “This bill represents a continuation of past policies and paradigms we know have had detrimental effects on people, families, and communities across our state while also creating a new sentencing disparity for marijuana resin.”

Eric Marsch, head of the Wisconsin Cannabis Activist Network, told Cannabis News Box that he’s happy the governor vetoed this bill. He said the state should “be legalizing cannabis and cannabis extracts.” Marsch said there are other ways to regulate extraction that don’t involve increasing criminal penalties.

“The Republicans proposed it largely for two reasons. One, they see cannabis concentrates as more dangerous than the flower itself. And two, they recognize that using butane for extracting hash oil can lead to explosions in some circumstances,” Marsch said. “But they fail to recognize that people already face steep penalties for creating and distributing BHO and that further increases would do little to deter people who don’t believe they’ll be caught anyway.”

Marsch said you can regulate things like extraction within a legalization framework. As for legalization, Marsch said it’s going to be difficult to get done with Republicans in charge of the legislature.

“Things are in a tough spot due to Republican gerrymandering. Despite a large majority of Wisconsinites supporting legalization, a
largely-prohibitionist GOP holds an iron grip on the legislature and doesn’t have to be responsive to the people of Wisconsin in order to win their elections,” Marsch said. “We are seeing progress though, as more GOP legislators are coming out in support of legalization and decriminalization. We will continue to chip away at this wall of resistance.”

Gov. Evers has been pushing for legalization for some time but hasn’t been able to get it done so far because of Republicans blocking it. It’s difficult to see things changing much until Republicans are no longer in charge of the legislature, so it seems unlikely the state will legalize
this year or maybe even next year.