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Almost Half of Wisconsin Voters Will See Marijuana Ballot Questions In November

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Voters in 16 counties throughout Wisconsin will have the opportunity to formally weigh in on marijuana policy this November through a series of ballot measures.

Over the past few months, organizers have pushed to get advisory questions on the ballot at the county and local levels, seeking public input on legalization. In general, voters will be asked some version of the question, “do you believe that marijuana should be legalized and regulated like alcohol?” In other counties, the questions concern medical cannabis legalization.

Tuesday was the deadline for county clerks to approve advisory referendums, with Racine County approving a last-minute trio of cannabis questions for its ballot.

In addition to the more than dozen counties chiming in this November, at least two cities will pose similar legalization questions to voters.

According to Cannabadger, an online news site that’s been tracking marijuana referendums in Wisconsin, just under half of Wisconsin’s population lives in the counties that have approved cannabis advisory questions.

There’s nothing binding about the ballot questions, however; this process has historically served as a precursor for action by lawmakers.

In Massachusetts, for example, a number of advisory questions inquiring about marijuana legalization appeared on the 2014 ballot. Responses to those referendums showed strong support for reform—and just two years later, the state approved an adult-use legalization initiative.

Wisconsin appears to be heading down a similar path.

Of the 20 counties where legalization referendums have been considered, only five county boards have rejected the bids, generally by slim margins.

Here’s the full list of confirmed county cannabis questions:

Brown CountyShould cannabis be legalized in Wisconsin for medicinal purposes, and regulated in the same manner as other prescription drugs?

Clark County: Should the State of Wisconsin legalize the use of marijuana for medical purposes and regulate its use in the same manner as other prescription drugs?

Dane CountyShould marijuana be legalized, taxed and regulated in the same manner as alcohol for adults 21 years of age or older?

Eau Claire CountyShould cannabis:
(a) Be legal for adult, 21years of age and older, recreational or medical use, taxed and regulated like alcohol, with the proceeds from the taxes used for education, healthcare, and infrastructure in Wisconsin?
(b) Be legal for medical purposes only and available only by prescription through a medical dispensary?
(c) Remain a criminally illegal drug as provided under current law?

Forest County: Should the State of Wisconsin allow individuals with debilitating medical conditions to use and safely access marijuana for medical purposes, if those individuals have a written recommendation from a licensed Wisconsin physician?

Kenosha County: Should the State of Wisconsin allow individuals with debilitating medical conditions to use and safely access marijuana for medical purposes, if those individuals have a written recommendation from a licensed Wisconsin physician?

La Crosse CountyShould the State of Wisconsin legalize the use of marijuana by adults 21 years or older, to be taxed and regulated in the same manner that alcohol is regulated in the State of Wisconsin, with proceeds from taxes used for education, healthcare, and infrastructure?

Langlade County: Should the State of Wisconsin allow individuals with debilitating medical conditions to use and safely access marijuana for medical purposes, if those individuals have a written recommendation from a licensed Wisconsin physician?

Lincoln County: Should the State of Wisconsin allow individuals with debilitating medical conditions to use and safely access marijuana for medical purposes, if those individuals have a written recommendation from a licensed Wisconsin physician?

Marathon CountyShould the State of Wisconsin allow individuals with debilitating medical conditions to use and safely access marijuana for medical purposes, if those individuals have a written recommendation from a licensed Wisconsin physician?

Marquette CountyResolved, that “We the People” of Marquette County, Wisconsin support the right of its citizens to acquire, possess and use medical cannabis upon the recommendation of a licensed physician, and;
Be It Further Resolved, that we strongly support a statewide referendum Wisconsin to join the thirty-two (32) states that have already approved the use of medical cannabis for the treatment of chronic pain, several debilitating diseases and disabling symptoms.

Milwaukee CountyDo you favor allowing adults 21 years of age and older to engage in the personal use of marijuana, while also regulating commercial marijuana-related activities, and imposing a tax on the sale of marijuana?

Portage CountyShould the State of Wisconsin allow individuals with debilitating medical conditions to use and safely access marijuana for medical [treatment] purposes, if those individuals have a written [treatment] recommendation from a licensed Wisconsin physician?

Racine CountyQuestion No. 1: “Should marijuana be legalized for medicinal use?
Question No. 2: Should marijuana be legalized, taxed, and regulated in the same manner as alcohol for adults 21 years of age or older?
Question No. 3: Should proceeds from marijuana taxes be used to fund education, health care, and infrastructure?”

Rock CountyShould cannabis be legalized for adult use, taxed and regulated like alcohol, with the proceeds from the Taxes used for education, healthcare, and infrastructure?

Sauk County: Should the state of Wisconsin legalize medical marijuana so that people with debilitating medical conditions may access medical marijuana if they have a prescription from a licenses Wisconsin physician?

Additionally, these cities will vote on marijuana advisory questions:

Racine: Should cannabis be legalized for adult recreational use in Wisconsin?
Should cannabis be legalized for medical use in Wisconsin?
Should cannabis sales be taxed and the revenue from such taxes be used for public education, health care, and infrastructure in Wisconsin?
Should cannabis be decriminalize in the State of Wisconsin?

Waukesha: Should cannabis be legalized in Wisconsin for medicinal purposes, and regulated in the same manner as other prescription drugs

“Just witnessing the huge turnouts and powerful testimony at the county board hearings around the state has increased the respect that cannabis reform is getting from the media and politicians around the state,” Eric Marsch, executive director of Southeastern Wisconsin NORML, told Marijuana Moment.

“Wisconsin’s constitution doesn’t allow for binding referendums, so we’ll have to legalize through the legislature. If the legislature gets elected with a majority vote in favor of legalization, that will put a lot more pressure on them.”

It’s not clear how residents will vote at the county and city levels in November, but a recent poll from Marquette University Law School found that 61 percent of Wisconsinites favor full cannabis legalization over prohibition. Just 36 percent of respondents said they opposed legalization.

Marsch said such polling is helpful but, because it’s based on a random sample of voters, “it’s easy for the politicians to dismiss the results as simply being heavily weighted in the more liberal parts of the state.”

“By having an exact count of where voters in each district stand on the issue, it will be a lot easier to hold the legislators accountable.”

As it currently stands, Wisconsin has some of the most restrictive marijuana laws on the books. Simple possession of small amounts of cannabis can still land you in jail for up to six months.

Poll: Huge Majority Of Wisconsin Voters Want Marijuana Legalized

Meanwhile, voters in Michigan and North Dakota will consider binding statewide ballot initiatives to legalize marijuana this November, while Missouri and Utah will vote on allowing medical cannabis.

Photo courtesy of Philip Steffan.

Marijuana Moment is made possible with support from readers. If you rely on our cannabis advocacy journalism to stay informed, please consider a monthly Patreon pledge.

Kyle Jaeger is Marijuana Moment's Sacramento-based senior editor. His work has also appeared in High Times, VICE and attn.

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