State News

Sargent to re-introduce marijuana legalization

After a vast majority of those who could voted to show support for the legalization of cannabis in a series of midterm referenda, state Rep. Melissa Sargent has vowed to bring back legislation to expand cannabis’ legal uses.

Image By: Thomas Yonash

Madison Rep. Melissa Sargent committed to re-introducing a bill to legalize marijuana after voters in several localities overwhelmingly supported legalization in referenda around the state.

The proved public opinion gives Sargent steam to once again propose legislation that would legalize the medical and recreational use of marijuana in the upcoming session in January 2019.

"It is in the best interest of our state to look toward the future and recognize the vast medicinal, economic, social justice opportunities marijuana legalization would bring to our state," Sargent said in a statement.

The marijuana advisory referendum was on ballots in 16 counties across the state. The majority opinion in every county passed the question on Nov. 6.

Language within the referendum varied across counties, including distinctions regarding age limits, medical versus recreational use and taxation.

Eighty-eight percent of voters in Kenosha County voted to sanction cannabis for medical use alone, and 70 percent of voters in Milwaukee County agreed to legalize the drug altogether.

In Dane County, 76 percent agreed marijuana should be legalized, taxed and regulated in the same manner as alcohol for adults 21 years of age or older.

In addition to the referendum, Eric Marsh, the executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws in southeast Wisconsin, believes the election of Gov.-elect Tony Evers and Attorney General-elect Josh Kaul is another positive step toward legalization.

"Both are very supportive of medical cannabis and open-minded on recreational cannabis,” Marsh said in an interview. “The close margin in those statewide races means they both owe their jobs to the hundreds of thousands of cannabis voters who came out to support the referendums."

But with both chambers of the legislature firmly in the hands of Republicans, it is difficult to imagine the legislation making much progress.

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