Dane County voters could get a chance to voice their opinion on whether the state should legalize marijuana if the Dane County Board of Supervisors chooses to include a newly proposed referendum on the spring 2014 ballot.

Supervisor Leland Pan, District 5, announced his plan to introduce a new measure that would ask voters whether the state government should “enact legislation to legalize marijuana,” at a press conference held Thursday. The question would gage the level of support from Dane County residents on decriminalizing or legalizing marijuana use in the state of Wisconsin, Pan said.

“The referendum is nonbinding and advisory,” Pan said. “It is a very general statement, but it’s asking whether Dane County supports the state government to push for legislation to legalize marijuana.”

Supervisor Kyle Richmond, District 4, co-sponsored the bill, and added it is a good time to include this question on the ballot, particularly given the costs of continual criminalization of marijuana.

“I think that it’s time, considering what’s going on in our country right now, in Washington and Colorado,” Richmond said. “I think it’s time we give voters the chance to say where they want to go with drug policy.”

Pan said he believes there is significant support among Dane County residents for legalizing or decriminalizing marijuana use.

In 2010, the Dane County Board posed a similar question to its constituents regarding legalization of medical marijuana and more than 75 percent of voters voted in favor of legalizing marijuana for medical purposes, Pan said.

Nate Petreman, president of the Madison chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana laws said at the press conference the organization is in full support of including the referendum on the ballot.

As of right now, Pan said he believes Dane County is the only county in Wisconsin proposing a referendum on the legalization of marijuana for inclusion on the ballot for the election in April 2014.

“I think Dane County has had a history of being out in the front on a lot of issues and so I hope this is one of those cases,” Pan said.

Pan added he hopes Dane County voters will take advantage of the referendum to send a message to legislators as to what direction they should take on marijuana policy in the state.

Before it can appear on the ballot, the proposed measure will go before the county’s executive committee and if passed will appear before the board in the next few weeks.