Wisconsin Gov. Evers proposes legalizing marijuana for both recreational and medical use

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FILE – In this Feb. 7, 2019, file photo, a bud tender shows a top cannabis strain at Serra, a dispensary in Portland, Ore. In an attempt to reduce the marijuana inventory in Oregon, the state is moving toward allowing the Oregon Liquor Control Commission to refuse to issue initial marijuana production licenses, based on supply and demand. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)

MADISON, Wis. (WFRV) – Governor Evers announced on Sunday that his 2021-23 biennial budget proposes regulating and taxing marijuana for both recreational and medical use.

The Office of the Governor states this proposal will increase revenue, create jobs, and reduce criminal justice system costs while providing a pathway for those suffering from chronic or debilitating pain and illness to utilize the medicine they require.

“Legalizing and taxing marijuana in Wisconsin—just like we do already with alcohol—ensures a controlled market and safe product are available for both recreational and medicinal users and can open the door for countless opportunities for us to reinvest in our communities and create a more equitable state,” said Gov. Evers. “Frankly, red and blue states across the country have moved forward with legalization and there is no reason Wisconsin should be left behind when we know it’s supported by a majority of Wisconsinites.”

Under the governor’s proposal, marijuana would be taxed and regulated much like alcohol and would be regulated by both the Department of Revenue (DOR) and the Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection.

All sales of marijuana for recreational use are required to be sold by a marijuana retailer holding a permit issued by the DOR, according to the Office of the Governor.

Officials state that certain limits placed on the sale and possession of marijuana under the proposal include:

  • Residents possessing no more than two ounces of marijuana and six plants for personal use.
  • Nonresidents can possess no more than 0.25 ounces of marijuana.
  • No marijuana processor or micro business that operates as a marijuana processor may make usable marijuana using marijuana grown outside of Wisconsin.
  • Individuals would need to be 21 years of age to purchase marijuana for recreational use.
  • All sales of recreational marijuana to minors would be prohibited.

The proposal also allegedly provides a path for medical marijuana users to access the product without paying retail taxes.

The Office of the Governor says legalizing marijuana is expected to generate more than $165 million annually beginning in the second year of the biennium Fiscal Year 2023. The governor proposes setting aside $80 million of the revenue generated by marijuana to reinvest in communities across the state through a new Community Reinvestment Fund.

“Beginning in Fiscal Year 2023, officials report the Community Reinvestment Fund will fund $30 million in equity grants through the Department of Health Services, the Department of Administration, and the Department of Children and Families, respectively; $5 million to fund grants to underserved communities through the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation; and provide more than $34 million to support sparsity aid, which goes to small, rural school districts. The remaining revenue would be deposited into the state’s general fund,” shares the Office of the Governor.

Under the proposal, Wisconsin would join 15 other states, including neighboring Michigan and Illinois, in legalizing recreational marijuana.

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