This Thursday, Wisconsin Rep. Melissa Sargent introduced a bill that would legalize and regulate the medical and recreational use of cannabis in the state. The proposed legislation marks Sargent's third attempt to push such a bill; the previous attempts were not allowed hearings by the state Legislature's Republican majority.
Like recreational legalization states that have already succeeded in ending prohibition, Sargent's bill would legalize marijuana use for adults 21 years and older. Wisconsin residents would be allowed to possess up to two ounces, and nonresidents would be allowed up to a quarter ounce. Individuals would be allowed to grow up to six plants at home, but would need a cultivation permit if they wanted to exceed that number.
Medical marijuana would be authorized for anyone over the age of 18 who has been diagnosed with a qualifying debilitating condition, with children under 18 allowed to use medical cannabis only with the consent of a parent or guardian. Medical marijuana patients would be allowed to possess up to three ounces.
Like in many states, opponents of the bill have raised concerns over stoned drivers and allowing legal cannabis to get into the hands of minors. To quell those worries, the bill contains provisions that make driving under the influence of marijuana the same as other DUI incidents. To address concerns about children, the bill would require schools to educate children about marijuana in the same way that they are educated about alcohol and tobacco.
“The most dangerous thing about marijuana in Wisconsin is that it remains illegal,” Sargent said. The legislator also argued for the positive financial gains that would come from taxing recreational sales. “This is a true economic stimulus package,” Sargent said.
Unfortunately, despite the financial benefits, it seems like the bill may not have much of a chance at success. Wisconsin’s Republican Governor Scott Walker has said that he is “not interested in opening the door towards legalizing marijuana, be it overall or even for medical marijuana, because I think studies show medically there are much more viable alternatives.”
This February, Democratic State Senators proposed a bill to legalize only medical marijuana, but even that was too progressive for the state’s Republican majority. Despite the railroading, some Republican lawmakers have expressed willingness to consider medical cannabis in the future.