Marijuana legalization in nearby states creates potential repercussions for Wisconsin
The possession of marijuana will remain illegal in Wisconsin
Bucking the national trend, Wisconsin is poised to crack down on marijuana possession with a new bill that has passed the state’s Senate.
With Illinois’ recent legalization of recreational marijuana on Jan. 1 and the Chicago Tribune reporting nearly $3.2 million in sales the first day, Wisconsin could face challenges at the borders and on the roads.
This could open the possibility for illegal transportation of marijuana across the border, as according to the Marijuana Policy Project, it remains illegal in Wisconsin on both recreational and medical fronts.
Lieutenant Anne Maxson from the Wisconsin State Patrol Waukesha Post, said the State Patrol has no plans to initiate border checks for drivers coming into Wisconsin. But, Maxson emphasized the drug is still illegal in Wisconsin and driving while high is considered driving while intoxicated.
“We’re going to be doing our same jobs as always,” Maxson said.
These recent legalizations could also lead to interstate tensions, especially when states who have legalized marijuana and states that have not share a border, Minority Caucus Vice Chair Senator Janis Ringhand, D-Evansville said. Michigan also joined the growing market, when sales began Dec. 1, 2019, according to the Marijuana Policy Project.
According to Ringhand, there is potential for people to bring marijuana illegally into Wisconsin through these shared borders. Sh e affirmed that as marijuana is still illegal in Wisconsin, those who bring it across the border will likely be charged with illegal possession.
“[Interstate tensions] are possible — it’s a little too soon to say,” Ringhand said.
Cannabis legalization in other midwestern states could potentially have adverse influences on Wisconsin’s economy, too. According to an article by Patch, some Wisconsin business owners have already suggested they’re moving their businesses across state lines in order to take advantage of the legal marijuana market.
As those looking to purchase marijuana legally will have to look outside of Wisconsin, local residents may also cross state lines, taking their money with them to other states.
Representative Melissa Sargent, D-Madison said in a statement to Milwaukee Public Media that legalization could be detrimental to Wisconsin.
“Many of the Midwestern states surrounding us are either medicinal or full legalization- Illinois, Michigan and Minnesota. The industry is setting up in those communities and it’s going to have a negative impact on the state of Wisconsin,” Sargent said.
But, people crossing the border to legally purchase marijuana is not as predictable of a problem as may be suggested. A study in Colorado found that nonresidents only used about 9% of Colorado’s 208.6 metric tons of marijuana consumed in 2017. But, according to The Associated Press, Michigan marijuana retailers have already reported many of their customers being from Ohio and Indiana, where recreational marijuana is still illegal.
According to The Associated Press, Illinois Governor J. B. Pritzker recently pardoned more than 11,000 people convicted of low-level marijuana crimes in what he called “the first wave” of similar pardons. Illinois officials predict that there are about 116,000 convictions that are qualified to be pardoned under this new law.
Ringhand said she thought that it was a good move on Pritzker’s part, as it would expunge thousands of convictions from people’s records, potentially allowing them better access to jobs and higher education.
“I’m amazed at how many people there were that were affected by that,” Ringhand said.
Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers supported the legalization of medical marijuana while running for office, and according to his website , believes full legalization should depend on Wisconsin residents.
According to a survey conducted by Marquette University Law School in 2019, 59% of voters say recreational marijuana should be legal, while 36% oppose it. Furthermore, 83% believe that medical marijuana should be legal, while only 12% oppose it.
Despite surrounding states legalizing marijuana in some form, as well as public support, legalization in Wisconsin may be an uphill battle for Governor Evers, as the Republican party controls the state legislature .
Republican lawmakers have historically been against marijuana legalization, with Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau having also previously voiced disapproval, according to reporting by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
“I don’t support this plan and I think that it’s going to be a tough sell to a majority of my caucus,” Fitzgerald told the Journal Sentinel.
Marijuana legalization in nearby states creates potential repercussions for Wisconsin The possession of marijuana will remain illegal in Wisconsin Bucking the national trend, Wisconsin is
LEARN | LAWS & REGULATIONS
Is Weed Legal in Wisconsin?
Cannabis is illegal under Wisconsin marijuana laws except for the limited use of cannabidiol (CBD) oil for medicinal purposes. The 2018 election proved to be a big moment for cannabis’s popularity in Wisconsin. Voters in more than a dozen counties and two cities expressed their support for cannabis in several non-binding advisory questions, including whether it should be legalized for medicinal purposes and whether it should be regulated and taxed like alcohol.
In Milwaukee and Dane counties, voters favored legalizing, regulating, and taxing cannabis by more than 60%.
Is Medical Marijuana Legal in Wisconsin?
Voters in other parts of Wisconsin tackled only medical marijuana, all of them leaning in favor of changing the law to allow its medical use. In the city of Waukesha, 77% of voters supported marijuana for medicinal purposes and its regulation as a prescription drug.
While these referenda are non-binding, they set the stage for a discussion about legalization in a state that has failed several times to pass laws allowing cannabis use for recreational or medicinal purposes. Wisconsin marijuana legalization may be on the horizon as a bill was introduced in 2019 to create a licensing system for growers. The bill also proposes to make Wisconsin medical marijuana available to patients who are registered with the state.
The Controlled Substances Board under Wisconsin’s Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS) regulates who can dispense CBD oil.
Where is it safe to purchase and consume?
For patients, a Controlled Substances Board-approved pharmacy or doctor may recommend CBD oil to treat a medical condition.
The law expands a patient’s usage beyond seizure disorders, stating that individuals with a medical condition can possess and consume CBD oil. The law, however, is vague on what medical conditions qualify. Patients may obtain certification from a doctor stating that they possess CBD oil for treatment and that the CBD oil has no intoxicating effect.
Medical Marijuana Registry
SB 10, signed into law by Republican Gov. Scott Walker in 2017, allows patients to be treated with CBD oil for a medical condition. However, the law doesn’t specify what qualifies as a medical condition. Patients need a doctor’s certification that states why the oil is needed and permission to use it for treatment.
Patients need a physician-issued certification to possess and use CBD oil for a medical condition.
View the cannabis & CBD laws & regulations for Wisconsin.