‘Sending a political signal:’ Voters overwhelmingly support marijuana referendums across the state

MILWAUKEE -- The midterm elections on Tuesday, Nov. 6 gave us two very tight races for governor and attorney general, but referendums on the ballot in several counties showed an overwhelming support for legalizing recreational marijuana.

Mordecai Lee

"I generally say an advisory referendum has the weight of a feather. All of the sudden, those advisory referendums are really impressive," said University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee professor Mordecai Lee.

Advisory referendums on marijuana were on the ballots in 16 counties and two cities Tuesday. Ten of the counties and the City of Waukesha focused on its medical use only.

In Waukesha, 77 percent of voters said marijuana should be legalized for medical use.

Unofficial returns from Milwaukee County show 70 percent of voters say the state's prohibition on marijuana should end and that its sales should be taxed. In Dane County, the margin was even wider, with 76 percent of voters favoring legalization of marijuana.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett

"It's sort of giving us an insight to the Wisconsin voter none of us really realized up to now," said Lee.

On Wednesday, Nov. 7, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett didn't seem too surprised by the results.

"Maybe that is really sending a political signal. I think nationally, it's clearly a national trend. You see it in a couple different places. Obviously medical marijuana is just off the charts," Mayor Barrett said.

It's a sign of changing times, according to Lee, and now -- as some may suggest -- a tactic to push progressive voters to the polls.

"'I'm not registered to vote. I've never voted in a gubernatorial election, but I am only going to vote because of the marijuana referendum.' Maybe you can fill a phone booth with those people," said Lee.

Below is a breakdown of the marijuana referendums on the ballot Tuesday, as released by Southeastern Wisconsin NORML:

Brown County:

"Should cannabis be legalized in Wisconsin for medicinal purposes, and regulated in the same manner as other prescription drugs?"

  • 76% YES
  • 24% NO

Clark County:

"Should the State of Wisconsin legalize the use of marijuana for medical purposes and regulate its use in the same manner as other prescription drugs?"

  • 67% YES
  • 33% NO

Dane County:

"Should marijuana be legalized, taxed and regulated in the same manner as alcohol for adults 21 years of age or older?"

  • 76% YES
  • 24% NO

Eau Claire County:

"Should cannabis:"

  • 54% - Be legal for adult, 21years of age and older, recreational or medical use, taxed and regulated like alcohol, with the proceeds from the taxes used for education, healthcare, and infrastructure in Wisconsin?
  • 31% - Be legal for medical purposes only and available only by prescription through a medical dispensary?
  • 15% - Remain a criminally illegal drug as provided under current law?

Forest County:

"Should the State of Wisconsin allow individuals with debilitating medical conditions to use and safely access marijuana for medical purposes, if those individuals have a written recommendation from a licensed Wisconsin physician?"

  • 79% YES
  • 21% NO

Kenosha County:

"Should the State of Wisconsin allow individuals with debilitating medical conditions to use and safely access marijuana for medical purposes, if those individuals have a written recommendation from a licensed Wisconsin physician?"

  • 88% YES
  • 12% NO

La Crosse County:

"Should the State of Wisconsin legalize the use of marijuana by adults 21 years or older, to be taxed and regulated in the same manner that alcohol is regulated in the State of Wisconsin, with proceeds from taxes used for education, healthcare, and infrastructure?"

  • 63% YES
  • 37% NO

Langlade County:

"Should the State of Wisconsin allow individuals with debilitating medical conditions to use and safely access marijuana for medical purposes, if those individuals have a written recommendation from a licensed Wisconsin physician?"

  • 77% YES
  • 23% NO

Lincoln County:

"Should the State of Wisconsin allow individuals with debilitating medical conditions to use and safely access marijuana for medical purposes, if those individuals have a written recommendation from a licensed Wisconsin physician?"

  • 81% YES
  • 19% NO

Marathon County:

"Should the State of Wisconsin allow individuals with debilitating medical conditions to use and safely access marijuana for medical purposes, if those individuals have a written recommendation from a licensed Wisconsin physician?"

  • 82% YES
  • 18% NO

Marquette County:

"Shall the County of Marquette, Wisconsin, adopt the following resolution? Resolved, that "We the People" of Marquette County, Wisconsin, support the right of its citizens to acquire, possess and use medical cannabis upon the recommendation of a licensed physician, and; Be It Further Resolved, that we strongly support a statewide referendum requesting Wisconsin to join with thirty-two (32) other states that have already approved the use of medical cannabis for the treatment of chronic pain, several debilitating diseases and disabling symptoms."

  • 78% YES
  • 22% NO

Milwaukee County:

"Do you favor allowing adults 21 years of age and older to engage in the personal use of marijuana, while also regulating commercial marijuana-related activities, and imposing a tax on the sale of marijuana?"

  • 70% YES
  • 30% NO

Portage County:

"Should the State of Wisconsin allow individuals with debilitating medical conditions to use and safely access marijuana for medical [treatment] purposes, if those individuals have a written [treatment] recommendation from a licensed Wisconsin physician?"

  • 83% YES
  • 17% NO

Racine County:

"Should marijuana be legalized for medicinal use?"

  • 85% YES
  • 15% NO

"Should marijuana be legalized, taxed, and regulated in the same manner as alcohol for adults 21 years of age or older?"

  • 59% YES
  • 41% NO

"Should proceeds from marijuana taxes be used to fund education, health care, and infrastructure?"

  • 81% YES
  • 19% NO

Rock County:

"Should cannabis be legalized for adult use, taxed and regulated like alcohol, with the proceeds from the Taxes used for education, healthcare, and infrastructure?"

  • 69% YES
  • 31% NO

Sauk County:

"Should the state of Wisconsin legalize medical marijuana so that people with debilitating medical conditions may access medical marijuana if they have a prescription from a licenses Wisconsin physician?"

  • 80% YES
  • 20% NO

City of Racine:

"Should cannabis be legalized for adult recreational use in Wisconsin?"

  • 66% YES
  • 34% NO

"Should cannabis be legalized for medical use in Wisconsin?"

  • 88% YES
  • 12% NO

"Should cannabis sales be taxed and the revenue from such taxes be used for public education, health care, and infrastructure in Wisconsin?"

  • 83% YES
  • 17% NO

"Should cannabis be decriminalized in the State of Wisconsin?"

  • 72% YES
  • 28% NO

City of Waukesha:

"Should cannabis be legalized in Wisconsin for medicinal purposes, and regulated in the same manner as other prescription drugs?"

  • 77% YES
  • 23% NO