Connect with us


Wisconsin Governor ‘Hopeful’ Marijuana Legalization Can Pass If Democrats Win Control With New Competitive Election Maps



The governor of Wisconsin says he’s “hopeful” that the November election will lead to Democratic control of the legislature, which will position the state to finally legalize marijuana.

At a stop on his “Pothole Patrol” tour on Tuesday, Gov. Tony Evers (D) was asked about the recent vote to legalize cannabis on tribal land in Ho-Chunk Nation and how that relates to the broader reform push in Wisconsin.

“We’ve been working hard over the last five years, several budgets, to make that happen,” he said. “I know we’re surrounded by states with recreational marijuana, and we’re going to continue to do it.”

But the GOP-controlled legislature has so far failed to pass even limited medical cannabis legislation, even a conservative bill was filed in January that the Assembly speaker had promoted. Republicans have also consistently stripped marijuana proposals from the governor’s budget requests.

Evers pointed out that polling consistently shows that a majority of Wisconsinites favor adult-use legalization, and it would “obviously bring revenue into the state of Wisconsin.”

“We’ll continue to do it,” the governor said. “I’m hopeful that the election this fall will make a difference in the way the legislature works and we’ll actually get this done.”

Republicans have controlled both the Assembly and Senate since 2011, but Democrats are significantly more optimistic about their odds this year after the governor signed new legislative districting maps following a state Supreme Court ruling that will make the upcoming election more competitive, potentially putting majority control of the chambers in play.

For the time being, however, legalization is unlikely to be taken up any further this year.

A Wisconsin Democratic Assemblymember tried to force a vote on a medical cannabis compromise proposal in February, as an amendment to an unrelated kratom bill, but he told Marijuana Moment he suspects leadership intentionally pulled that legislation from the agenda at the last minute to avoid a showdown on the issue.

That move came as the GOP speaker retreated on his own limited cannabis legislation that a top Republican senator criticized as anti-free market because it would’ve created a system of state-run dispensaries.

Sen. Melissa Agard (D), who has long championed legalization, slammed Republicans for what she described as a “smoke and mirrors” medical marijuana proposal.

The state Department of Revenue released a fiscal estimate of the economic impact of a legalization bill from Agard last November, projecting that the reform would generate nearly $170 million annually in tax revenue.

Also, a legislative analysis requested by the minority leader estimated that Wisconsin residents spent more than $121 million on cannabis in Illinois alone in 2022, contributing $36 million in tax revenue to the neighboring state.

Evers and other Democrats have insisted that they would be willing to enact a modest medical marijuana program, even if they’d prefer more comprehensive reform.

Meanwhile, a bipartisan group of Wisconsin lawmakers formally introduced a measure to decriminalize marijuana possession in December. Sponsors had hoped the limited, noncommercial reform would win enough support to clear the state’s GOP-controlled legislature and become law in parallel with the separate medical cannabis bill.

Pennsylvania GOP Senator Says State Is ‘Getting Close’ To Legalizing Marijuana, But Lawmakers Must ‘Work It Out’ With Governor

Photo courtesy of Max Pixel.

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.
Become a patron at Patreon!

Marijuana News In Your Inbox

Get our daily newsletter.

Support Marijuana Moment

Marijuana News In Your Inbox


Get our daily newsletter.