With past legislation and attempts to legalize marijuana having faded, a new bill introduced Monday would legalize weed in Wisconsin.
Rep. Melissa Sargent, D-Madison, said during a press conference that this bill was for the medicinal and recreational use of marijuana, as well as the decriminalization of marijuana in Wisconsin.
“I know that right now in Wisconsin it’s time for Wisconsin’s marijuana solution, and that’s why I’m standing here today,” Sargent said.
The bill would legalize marijuana for people who are over 21 years old to carry a quarter-ounce of marijuana. Sargent proposed a similar bill in the legislature last session, which never got a hearing. She said the bill has a number of changes, including removing the sale of edibles and infusions.
The bill would allow people to grow up to 12 marijuana plants at a time for personal use. Marijuana is currently legal in Colorado, Alaska, Oregon and Washington for recreational use, while 20 states allow people to use marijuana medicinally.
Sargent said legalization of marijuana is the solution to increasing liberty and freedom in Wisconsin.
Joe Erato, president of the Wisconsin Cannabis Project, said at the press conference that legalizing marijuana would help the economy. The bill includes a tax provision for marijuana with a rate at 25 percent.
Erato said the Wisconsin Cannabis Project was created to break the negative stigma associated with cannabis. He said their focus is to promote the medicinal benefits of marijuana. Erato said marijuana eases the suffering of cancer patients going through chemotherapy and has been used to treat post traumatic stress disorder in veterans.
“In society, we have many drugs that are used medicinally that pose a much greater risk than cannabis,” Erato said.
Rep. Chris Kapenga, R-Delafield, said in an interview with Capitol City Sunday said he did not believe there was going to be much Republican support behind the bill. He said Republican lawmakers have made it pretty clear that marijuana legalization is not something they are interested in.
“From a personal standpoint, I’ve dealt with this personally in my family with addictions and I think if you look at the danger that we have with it … the benefits don’t outweigh the risks in our minds,” Kapenga said.
Republicans have the majority in both houses of the legislature.
Sargent said she has heard support from Republicans around the state for the legalization of marijuana, including Erato, who identified himself as conservative at the press conference. She said the issue should not be focused on partisan lines.
“This is not an issue that we should be considering as a party issue,” Sargent said. “This is a values issue, this is something that is the best for the people of our state.”