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Report: Decriminalizing small amounts of pot would mean no fines in Wisconsin

MADISON (WKOW) — Gov. Tony Evers’ proposal to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana would make Wisconsin unique compared to other states that have enacted similar laws, according to the Wisconsin Policy Forum.

The nonpartisan group said Wisconsin’s proposal would eliminate both civil and criminal penalties if a person was caught with less than 25 grams, or just under an ounce. Instead of a ticket, offenders would not face a penalty of any kind.

Wisconsin Policy Forum found 13 other states that have removed criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana (without legalizing adult recreational use) have all retained civil fines that generally range from $50 to $300, the report finds.

In contrast, Wisconsin’s proposal would also not go as far as 10 states that have legalized adult recreational use of marijuana and created a licensed market serving the general public. Instead, the bill would make Wisconsin the 34th state to legalize marijuana for treating patients with certain medical conditions.

The debate over legalizing medical marijuana and decriminalizing possession has both parties at odds. Last week, co-chair of the powerful joint finance committee Sen. Alberta Darling (R- River Hills) called Gov. Evers proposal “scary” and “off the wall.”

Republican leaders also reiterated that it likely “won’t pass” in the legislature this year and have vowed to remove the measure from Evers’ budget, saying it needs to be debated separately.

Gov. Evers told a crowd at an event at Milwaukee Press Club he doesn’t expect Republicans to “jump off a cliff” to support his proposal to decriminalize small amounts. He’s still remaining confidant legalizing medical marijuana can make strides and is hopeful for additional support from his Republican colleagues.

In the most recent Marquette University Law School Poll, 59% of voters say marijuana use should be legal, while 36% say it should not be legal.

For medical marijuana support grew with 83% say use of medical purposes with a doctor’s prescription should be legal, with 12% don’t think so.

For a copy of The Wisconsin Taxpayer, “A Clear-Headed Look at Marijuana Policy,” can be found here.

Emilee Fannon

Capital Bureau Chief

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