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Lawmakers hope bipartisan support and public opinion will move medical marijuana legalization forward

MADISON (WKOW) — Medical marijuana supporters are taking another chance at legalization. After the legislature shot down the issue in Gov. Evers’ budget, a group of lawmakers is introducing a new bill and preparing for another fight.

One of the authors is Rep. Chris Taylor (D- Madison) who said the wait for Wisconsin has been long enough.

“There’s now 33 states and the District of Columbia that have medical marijuana laws including every surrounding state to Wisconsin,” she said.

She and Sen. John Erpenbach (D-Middleton) have tried since 2017 to add Wisconsin to that list. Now they say they have two important allies.

“We have about 80 percent of our residents in this state that support medical marijuana,” Taylor said.

She cites April’s Marquette University Law School Poll as a sign public opinion is behind them but she hopes the bill’s first republican co-author could tip the scales even further. Senator Patrick Testin (R-Stevens Point) said his support for cannabis hits home.

“My grandfather, who died back in 2000, he was diagnosed with both lung and bone cancer and he had to go outside the law to get the only thing that gave him his appetite back and could keep his food down, that was cannabis,” Testin said.

Both lawmakers admit the bill will be a tough sell in the senate.

Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R – Juneau) has opposed any legalization efforts and released this statement Friday: “Everyone knows that medical marijuana leads to legalized marijuana. We’ve already seen that some states with easier access to marijuana have seen an increase in emergency room visits and impaired driving accidents.”

Rep. Taylor said that’s no surprise.

“We know that it’s still going to be a struggle to get this bill moving in the state legislature,” she said.

Still, she said she’s hoping this year, with new support, her long wait will come to an end.

Gov. Evers has voiced his support for the bill while Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester), who opposed Evers’ proposal for medical marijuana in the budget said he’s open to legalizing medical marijuana when it’s prescribed by a doctor and distributed in a way that prevents recreational use.

Michelle Alfini

Reporter, WKOW

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