Medical marijuana for Wisconsin?


Another push has begun to legalize recreational and medicinal marijuana in Wisconsin. But if legislators toe the party line, the bill sponsored by a Democrat likely won’t get anywhere in the Republican-controlled Legislature.

State Rep. Melissa Sargent, D-Madison, introduced the legislation at a press conference Monday morning. She said legalizing marijuana would reduce crime and create jobs, but Republican leaders were quick to dismiss the legislation.

Sargent believes legalizing marijuana will solve issues – not create more.

“Some politicians have demonized the use of marijuana,” said Sargent. “But what is truly criminal is the money that Wisconsin is losing by not legalizing marijuana.”

Sargent introduced similar legislation last year. That bill never made any progress in Madison.

State Rep. Andre Jacque, R-De Pere, expects the same result again.

“Certainly whatever imagined revenue there might be, I think there would be certainly higher costs to society,” said Jacque.

The bill would allow a person to get a permit to sell marijuana for recreational use. Sellers would pay a 25 percent tax on the sales price.

The legislation would also allow people to register and use marijuana for medicinal reasons. The measure would not allow the sale of edible marijuana or marijuana usage in public, and it would still be illegal to drive with a detectable amount of marijuana in your system.

“This is a values issue,” said Sargent. “This is something that is the best for the people of our state.”

Jacque has another view about the potential impact, saying it would likely increase marijuana use among younger people and result in more people using marijuana before driving.

“Clearly the values that I consider are keeping our communities safe, looking out for our children, looking out for people in general,” he said.

Twenty-three states allow some form of medical marijuana use. Four states – Colorado, Oregon, Washington and Alaska – plus the District of Columbia have legalized recreational marijuana use.

Wisconsin likely won’t join them. An email from Governor Walker’s press secretary says the governor opposes the legislation.

“(Marijuana) is a gateway drug and Governor Walker has also heard from law enforcement professionals who have significant concerns about the impact of legalizing this drug,” said Laurel Patrick.

Marijuana use is illegal under federal law, but the federal government has said it won’t challenge state laws that make it legal as long as those states strictly enforce their new regulations

Wisconsin allows an oil derived from marijuana to be used to treat certain medical disorders. That policy was passed and signed into law by the governor last spring.



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