61 percent of Wisconsinites are in favor of legalizing cannabis, the drug is legal in two neighboring states and decriminalized in Madison.

Still, it will be challenging to legalize recreational marijuana on a state level — though Wisconsin is heading in that direction, Wisconsin Assembly leader Rep. Jim Steineke, R-Kaukauna said Monday.

Legalizing cannabis is receiving increasing bipartisan support in Wisconsin. In 2021, Gov. Tony Evers and Sen. Melissa Agard D-Madison both separately proposed to legalize marijuana in Wisconsin.

Jan. 2022, Wisconsin Republicans proposed legalizing the medicinal use of cannabis. Proponents of legalizing marijuana cite the economic benefits and a safer market for users in their argument.

But if Wisconsin does legalize cannabis, it will be difficult for the state to create quality-control measures because the U.S has no national standards on cannabis use, University of Wisconsin Pharmacology Professor and medicinal cannabinoid researcher Natalie Schmitz, said.

“It’s important to be transparent and accurate with what’s in these different products,” Schmitz said.

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Cannabis plants can contain different types of cannabinoids and how these cannabinoids affect patients can vary, Schmitz said. This can be dangerous for patients who acquire cannabis without a physician’s direction and supervision, Schmitz said.

Schmitz said she supports Wisconsin passing a law legalizing marijuana for medicinal purposes provided the legislation also includes policies on its safe use — like requiring pharmacists to oversee distribution, or educating patients on the side effects.

“I think it’s important that we have quality products, and patients are able to use it safely guided by a healthcare professional,” Schmitz said.