MADISON (WITI) — It has been one year since Colorado and Washington legalized marijuana, and this year, half of the states will consider similar legislation. A Democratic Wisconsin representative has introduced a bill into the state Assembly to legalize marijuana.
The bill has attracted six Democratic co-sponsors.
LRB 3671 would legalize marijuana for recreational and medicinal purposes in Wisconsin.
Rep. Melissa Sargent says the bill is a good start to bringing a policy we’ve seen implemented in Colorado and Washington State to Wisconsin.
“After researching this issue extensively, I believe that this bill will benefit Wisconsin and its citizens in many ways, including: addressing racial disparities in arrests, providing medical benefits, time and cost savings to law enforcement, and additional revenue for the state,” Rep. Sargent stated in a press release posted on her website.
“It just makes sense,” Gary Storck told FOX6 News.
Storck is one of Wisconsin’s leading advocates for decriminalizing marijuana. As a glaucoma patient, he learned in the 1970s that smoking cannabis reduced his inter-ocular eye pressure and helped to save his vision.
“It has helped me. I’ve been using cannabis every day since then, that I’ve been able to access it,” Storck said.
Storck founded the group “Is My Medicine Legal Yet?” or IMMLY.
Medical marijuana is already legal in 20 states, and 14 others are considering medical marijuana laws this year.
As for Wisconsin…
“I don’t think you’re going to see anything serious anytime soon here, but if other states did, maybe in the next Legislative session there’d be more talk about it,” Gov. Walker said.
Gov. Walker spoke with Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper at last week’s National Governor’s Assocation meeting, where Hickenlooper said his state would see $134 million in sales tax revenue for the year — much higher than expected.
“He talked about the upsides of the revenue. He also talked about how they weren’t rushing to spend that on other things because, he said, it’s early and they’re still concerned about the side effects,” Gov. Walker said.
Despite the fact that Rep. Sargent has introduced LRB 3671, the consensus among state law enforcement officials seems to be that marijuana is a “gateway drug,” and should remain illegal.
Gov. Walker agrees, but says he isn’t completely shutting the door on this issue.
“It may be something that resonates in the future, but I just don’t see any movement for it right now,” Gov. Walker said.
That means for now, folks like Gary Storck must weigh criminal penalties against crippling pain.
“I have to buy it on the black market, like so many patients, and it’s really sad because people want this medicine, they want legal access, but because our lawmakers haven’t yet caught up with public opinion, they still have to break the law,” Storck said.
What do you think? Is Wisconsin ready for the legalization of marijuana?