Contentious Legalization Legislation Introduced in Wisconsin

Wisconsin lawmakers introduced a bill Monday to legalize marijuana for both medical and recreational use.

LRB-0188 was announced by Rep. Melissa Sargent (D-Madison), who argued that the bill would reduce crime and benefit the economy. If passed, the bill would allow Wisconsin residents of 21 years and older to possess up to an ounce of cannabis; out-of-state visitors could possess up to a quarter-ounce. Marijuana would be taxed at 25% of the sales price.

Rep. Sargent proposed a similar bill in the past that didn’t make it very far in the Republican-controlled legislature. This bill will have to fight a similar uphill battle, but Sargent says the new legislation addresses concerns that weighed it down last time.

“We’ve completely removed edibles and infusions. There are deep concerns in other states about the impact on young people,” she said. Sargent highlighted the failures of prohibition as well:

“In Wisconsin, African-Americans are … six times more likely to be arrested for simple marijuana possession than Caucasians, despite nearly identical usage rates. In fact, in the city of Madison, the area that I represent, that ratio is a staggering 12-to-1… We have spent countless taxpayer dollars, imprisoned non-violent offenders, perpetuated falsehoods, and created a dangerous black market. This must end.”

Republican lawmakers such as Rep. David Steffen (R-Green Bay) have already spoken out against the bill, and a spokesperson for conservative Governor Scott Walker stated that the governor opposes the bill on the grounds that marijuana is a gateway drug.

Walker stated in February 2014 that people can enjoy themselves more responsibly while drinking a beer or two than they can while smoking.


Photo Credit: sonimi

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