Wisconsin Lawmakers Push to Legalize Cannabis

Wisconsin lawmakers are presenting legislation in the Senate that could make cannabis legal. Now, it just needs to advance.
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Wisconsin Senator Melissa Agard wants to finally legalize marijuana in Wisconsin. This week, the midwestern state’s lawmakers introduced legislation in an attempt to make it a reality. More than 60 percent of Wisconsin citizens already support fully legalizing marijuana, while over 80 percent support legalizing the consumption and selling of medical marijuana.

Agard announced the legislation outside of South Beloit’s marijuana dispensary. It’s located right on the state line between Illinois and Wisconsin. “Not only will this proposal allow our state to right past wrongs, it will also open countless doors to our farmers and agricultural sector to participate in a growing industry,” Agard said. “Wisconsin can no longer ignore the cannabis industry—we are losing out on millions of dollars and family sustaining jobs to our neighboring states.”

Agard has been advocating for legalizing marijuana for years. She is one of the new bill’s many Democratic sponsors in Wisconsin. By passing the bill, the senator wants to generate more economic support for the state. “Not only will this proposal allow our state to right past wrongs, it will also open countless doors to our farmers and agricultural sector to participate in a growing industry,” Agard said.

“Wisconsin can no longer ignore the cannabis industry—we are losing out on millions of dollars and family sustaining jobs to our neighboring states. […] Wisconsin is an island of prohibition. Prohibition has not worked when it comes to alcohol. It did not work with margarine, and it’s not working when it comes to cannabis.”

If cannabis becomes legal, $165 million in yearly tax revenue for Wisconsin is projected. The District of Columbia and 35 states, including Midwestern states such as Illinois and Michigan, are already reaping the benefits. Since Agard began representing District 16 earlier this year, she’s continued to advocate for her state to join a majority of the country in moving along with the times. Now, Agard is telling people to ask their legislators to sign the legislation, LRB 4361. Call local legislators, she implores. 

Months ago, the Senator even penned an op-ed, titled “It’s not too late for Wisconsin to lead on marijuana policy.” Since 2013, she’s called for legalizing marijuana for both medicinal and recreational use. She’s even authored previous legislations in the state, to no avail. 

“I want to go back to the core reason that everyone should support full legalization in Wisconsin,” she wrote. “It helps us to live up to the aspirational words of our founding, that we are all created equal and should be treated as such under the laws of our state. We can lead in these efforts. There is no reason for Wisconsin to be the last state to legalize; we simply must have the political courage to do the right thing.”

Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers wants to do the right thing, as well. Earlier this year, Evans proposed legalizing marijuana for the 2021-2023 biennial budget. If his plan is approved, $80 million out of the estimated $165 million state revenue would go directly into the 

“Community Reinvestment Fund.” 

The fund would support communicates harmed by outdated laws, which have worsened racial inequality in the state. “Legalizing and taxing marijuana in Wisconsin—just like we do already with alcohol—ensures a controlled market and safe products are available for both recreational and medicinal users,” Evans said, “and can open the door for countless opportunities for us to reinvest in our communities and create a more equitable state. 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.”

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