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Wisconsin Governor Unveils Plan to Legalize Cannabis

February 9, 2021

Governor of Wisconsin Tony Evers (D) revealed a plan to legalize cannabis in the state on February 7th as part of his forthcoming budget proposal. Evers said that the policy change reflects the will of Wisconsin voters and will provide hundreds of millions of dollars for tax revenue in the state — allowing for allocation of funds to schools and equity initiatives. 

The governor also said that the legalization of adult-use, recreational cannabis will allow for a controlled market and safer product for users of the substance. The proposal will also include a medicinal program. 

Could Republicans Stand in the Way of Wisconsin Cannabis Legalization? 

Evers tried to decriminalize small-scale cannabis possession and legalize medical-use marijuana in his first budget proposal as governor in 2019, but Republican lawmakers removed those provisions from the bill. As the governor moves to add legalization to his 2021-2023 budget proposal, it appears that the state will be gearing up for another partisan battle. 

In a press release, Evers called Wisconsin legislatures to take note of other states — both red and blue — that have moved to legalize adult-use cannabis as a means of recouping funds lost due to the onset of the global pandemic. 

Details of the Proposed Legislation 

The governor outlined his plan with the following provisions: 

  • Legalized cannabis for adults 21 years or older. 
  • Possession of up to two ounces of cannabis for Wisconsinites. 
  • Home cultivation of 6 plants for personal use.
  • Products would be subject to a 15 percent excise tax and another 10 percent excise tax on retail sales. 
  • A medical program that would not be subject to retail tax. 

If passed, the governor’s office projects that cannabis could: 

  • Generate more than $165 million annually beginning in fiscal year 2023.
  • Invest $80 million per year into a Community Reinvestment Fund aimed at providing equity grants to state agencies and underserved communities. 
  • Support small, rural school districts with $34 million per year. 

A recent poll showed that almost 60% of state residents are in favor of legalizing adult-use cannabis, with 83% supporting the legalization of a medical program. 

Contributed by Jack Berning