Evers proposal to decriminalize marijuana, legalize for medical use

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MADISON (WKOW) — Gov. Tony Evers proposal to legalize medical marijuana would allow an individual with a debilitating medical condition to possess up to three ounces or 12 live plants. The program would be regulated by the Department of Health Services (DHS) and Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP).

Under the direction of a medical professional, a person with medical conditions who would apply include cancer, glaucoma, acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, HIV, Crohn’s disease, hepatitis C, Alzheimer’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, nail-patella syndrome, ehlers-danlos syndrome, post-traumatic stress disorder, chronic pain, severe nausea, seizures and other conditions as determined by DHS.

These individuals would have to apply with DHS, pay a fee for a license and show identification to buy. People who have committed various violent felonies in the last 10 years would not be eligible to use medical marijuana.

According to Evers plan, a dispensary would not be allowed to be within 500 feet of a school and any medical marijuana sold in Wisconsin must be grown here.

Evers plan would spend more than $1.57 million in his biennium budget. They estimate it could generate $2.26 million in sales tax revenue.

DECRIMINALIZATION:

The governor said his medical marijuana plan would have a direct impact on racial disparities by decriminalizing small amounts of cannabis. It applies to anyone who posses, manufactures or distributes 25 grams or less.

“I believe and know the people of Wisconsin overwhelming believe people should not be treated like criminals for accessing medicine that could change or maybe even save their lives,” said Evers.

Rep. David Crowley (D-Milwaukee) said the proposal would help individuals who are in prison for low level drug offenders.

“This is a first step in the right direction to eliminate the disproportion that is imposed on communities of color,” said Rep. Crowley.

Evers plan would also establish an expungement procedure for those convicted of lower level drug offenses (25 grams of marijuana or less) as long as they’ve completed their sentence or probation.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and other Assembly Republican leaders have voiced support for legalizing medical marijuana. Vos send out a statement saying he has some concerns with the entire package Evers is proposing.

“Without having specific details, his proposal appears to go too far,” Vos wrote. “It makes it easier to get recreational marijuana and provides a pathway to full legalization, which I do not support.”

The real uphill battle is gaining support in the State Senate. Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said he opposes medical marijuana and is not sure how it could pass in his chamber.

Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce is also urging Governor Evers to rethink his plan to decriminalize marijuana for recreational use.

“There is not enough research on this issue to determine if marijuana can be used safely, and there is plenty of research that shows it impairs an individual’s ability to operate equipment safely,” said Kurt Bauer, WMC president & CEO. “Wisconsin businesses leaders care about their employees’ safety, and decriminalization of marijuana could substantially increase the risk of harm for those employed in the manufacturing, construction, agriculture and other business sectors.”

ACCESS TO CBD (Cannabidiol)

Individuals could legally possess and use cannabidiol, also known as CBD, without a physician’s approval under the governor’s plan. CBD oil is derived from marijuana but does not include THC, the chemical in marijuana that can create a”high” feeling.

Current law allows families to possess CBD only with a yearly certification by a doctor. The governor wants to allow families and others to obtain this without additional barriers.

CBD is often used to treat seizures in children.

MAJORITY OF VOTERS APPROVE 

The governor emphasized Wisconsin needs to join more than 30 other states including the District of Columbia to legalize marijuana for medical use.

He mentioned 16 counties overwhelming supported legalization for medical purposes through referendums last November.

In January, Marquette University Law School Poll found 59 percent of respondents said marijuana should be legal, while 35 percent opposed.

Attorney General Josh Kaul is also on board. He supports legalizing medical marijuana to help people get pain relief and help boost the state’s revenues.

 

Emilee Fannon

Emilee Fannon

Capital Bureau Chief

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