As it becomes increasingly surrounded with other states that have already legalized medical and recreational cannabis, Wisconsin still has yet to legalize cannabis for medical or recreational use.
According to a top Republican lawmaker, that could change later this year.
During a Tuesday luncheon hosted by Wisconsin Health News, State Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) said that a medical cannabis measure could become public later this summer, according to a
A Path Forward for Medical Cannabis in Wisconsin?
Vos supports medical cannabis in some circumstances, just not as a pathway to full recreational legalization.
“I can’t see any scenario where I would support legalizing recreational marijuana. I just don’t see it. I see no benefit,” he
Conversely, Gov. Tom Evers (D) has called for legalizing both medical and recreational cannabis. He’s also said that he would sign a standalone medical cannabis bill if it’s brought up by the legislature, so long as it’s not “flawed” or overly limited.
At the event, Vos said that a number of Republicans were working to create a medical cannabis proposal “unique to Wisconsin, which would hopefully give people who are in an awful situation, the relief that medicinal marijuana could employ, but not lead to recreational marijuana, where I think it’s bad for society.”
He said that the proposal could be made public “later in the summer” but provided no further details.
Conflicting Collaborative Accounts
Vos also said that he had offered to collaborate with Democratic lawmakers in Republican discussions on the matter but claimed they are dead set on medical and recreational legalization.
However, according to Senate Minority Leader Melissa Agard (D), she has not received offers to be looped in on Republican medical cannabis conversations.
“Republicans have the majority and legislative Democrats are not standing in the way of them passing thoughtful medical marijuana,” she told
Agard said she supports the full legalization of responsible, adult-use cannabis, but she’s also not going to stand in the way “of comprehensive progress that honors people’s individual privacy and liberties and does not choose winners and losers of pain bearers.”
Wisconsin’s Recreational Cannabis Dilemma
Currently, every state surrounding Wisconsin has legalized cannabis for either medical or medical and recreational use; Illinois, Minnesota and Michigan now have legal adult-use and medical cannabis programs, while Iowa has a legal medical program. Minnesota only
While politicians like Vos may be against recreational cannabis legalization within Wisconsin, that hasn’t stopped residents from traveling to nearby states to secure cannabis products. According to a legislative analysis requested by a Wisconsin senator, state residents purchased more than $121 million worth of cannabis from legal retailers in Illinois in 2022, about $36 million in tax revenue to the state,
Of course, this means that Wisconsin consumers not only are already able to access cannabis already but also that Wisconsin isn’t reaping the tax benefits of these purchases. Exactly how this continues to manifest in the Republican-led legislature remains to be seen, but it’s likely the issue will only increase as Minnesota’s recreational cannabis program continues to take shape.