Is Wisconsin on its way to legalizing cannabis?

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Is Wisconsin on its way to legalizing cannabis?

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Thor Benson / Cannabis News Box Contributor

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers recently said in an interview that he wants to legalize both medical and social use cannabis, but he isn’t sure that the state’s legislature is ready to make any moves on the social use side. He said that pushing to legalize medical cannabis in the state could be a “good place to start” because Republicans in the legislature appear to be open to it. He said he’d also like to move forward on decriminalizing small amounts of cannabis.

Eric Marsch, executive director of NORML’s office in Southeastern Wisconsin, told Cannabis News Box that Republicans in the legislature are the main roadblock in the way of legalizing cannabis. He said that gerrymandering in Wisconsin has caused lawmakers to be elected who don’t represent residents’ interests.

“It’s moving slowly in Wisconsin due to Republican gerrymandering,” Marsch said. “Despite 59% of Wisconsinites supporting legalization – including Governor Tony Evers – the Republicans have strong control over the legislature and refuse to touch the issue. They even voted against medical cannabis in the budget earlier this summer, although some Republicans are calling for “discussion” about medical cannabis in the fall.”

Marsch believes the only way to move forward on these issues is to vote out Republicans in 2020. He said the state doesn’t have a ballot initiative option, so legalization has to go through the legislature.

“The Senate Majority Leader, Scott Fitzgerald, has said that he opposes any kind of cannabis reform beyond hemp, and has promised to kill any medical cannabis bill in the Senate,” Marsch said. “This is why our top priority is flipping control of the Wisconsin Senate in the 2020 election away from the Republicans and to the Democrats, who are much more supportive of all forms of cannabis law reform. By disempowering Senator Fitzgerald – our strongest opponent at the moment – we can open the doors to real reform in 2021 and beyond.”

Marsch said the governor has a “great medical cannabis proposal” and “decent decriminalization proposal” but that Republican probably won’t pass either plan. The governor hasn’t bothered to introduce a legalization plan because he knows Republicans would never give it a chance of passing.

Support for legalization is growing in Wisconsin, especially since Illinois recently legalized cannabis, but it appears there won’t be much movement unless some Republicans are voted out in 2020. That’s going to take a large voter turnout since gerrymandering in the state benefits Republicans who are trying to stay in office.