A Wisconsin lawmaker on Thursday revealed that the state’s residents paid approximately $36 million in cannabis taxes to retailers in
On March 10, the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB) released
Senate Minority Leader Melissa Agard, who introduced the first bill to legalize recreational marijuana in Wisconsin in 2013, said that the cannabis taxes being paid by Wisconsinites should not be going across the border to other states. The report notes that in the four Illinois counties bordering Wisconsin that have cannabis dispensaries, just over half (50.6%) of the cannabis sales were made to residents of other states.
“It should upset every Wisconsinite that our hard earned tax dollars are going across the border to Illinois,”
Nearly Two-Thirds Support Legalizing Recreational Marijuana
Agard noted that despite her nearly a decade of
Agard added that until lawmakers legalize cannabis, neighboring states that have already made progress on the issue will continue to collect tax revenue from Wisconsin residents.
“Republicans’ continued refusal to legalize marijuana is fiscally irresponsible,” she wrote. “Wisconsinites paid more than $31 million – just in taxes – to Illinois in 2022. Wisconsin’s loss of potential revenue is even larger if we include taxes paid to Michigan, as well as Minnesota in the near future. Wisconsin is losing out on significant tax dollars that could be used to make our communities stronger, safer, and healthier.”
Democratic Gov. Tony Evers has repeatedly called on state lawmakers to legalize cannabis. In his proposed state budget for the upcoming fiscal year, the governor estimates that legalizing marijuana for adults 21 and older would generate $166 million in tax revenue for the state. Evers’ plan would dedicate cannabis taxes to augmenting funding for public schools. Agard noted that legalization would have benefits in addition to creating a new source of tax revenue for the state.
“We are an island of prohibition and the people of our state are hurting because of it,” said Agard. “As seen in our neighboring states, legalizing marijuana for responsible adult usage will generate significant revenue for our mainstreets, safely regulate the existing illicit market, reinvest in our agriculture and farming heritage, support entrepreneurship, and address the massive and egregious racial disparities from marijuana prohibition.”
But so far, cannabis legalization efforts in Wisconsin have not gained the support of the state’s Republican majority. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos recently said that this year might be different and that GOP lawmakers have been discussing what kind of cannabis policy reform they will support.
“I want to make sure that, at least from my perspective, we are crystal clear this is not about a pathway toward recreational (marijuana), it’s not about creating a new industry with all kinds of new revenue for the state,”
“I’m going to do everything I can to make sure that it is helping the people who have a chronic disease, not creating a pathway or a gateway to recreational marijuana somewhere in the future,” said Vos. “I think — I know our caucus would not support that. I don’t think it’d be good for the state.”