WI Republican says marijuana proposal ‘likely to be dead upon arrival’

Should Wisconsin legalize marijuana? Governor Tony Evers wants to use the budget to do that. He estimates recreational marijuana could bring the state $165 million a year. He says he’d like to use that partly for rural schools and community investment, but there are high hurdles passing the Legislature.

Marijuana is against the law in Wisconsin, but just across the border in Illinois, recreational marijuana has been allowed since 2020, where state leaders say it’s brought in some $175 million in tax money.

Gov. Tony Evers

Evers says recreational and medical marijuana 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.”

Senator Patrick Testin

“I’m not sure why the governor continues to throw out these proposals when he knows it’s likely going to be dead upon arrival,” said Senator Patrick Testin (R-Stevens Point). “It’s his right to do so, but when it comes to legalization, I don’t foresee that happening this budget cycle.”

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Assembly Speaker Robin Vos

Still, Testin, the chairman of the Senate Committee on Health backs medical marijuana; as does Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, but the Legislature rejected the governor’s push for just medical marijuana in the 2019 budget.

“One of the primary concerns that I have with full-blown recreational is the very fact that law enforcement has a number of concerns,” said Testin.

Keaton Miller, Wisconsin native and University of Oregon economics professor, has studied road safety and marijuana legalization.

Photo by Kevin Cummins/Getty Images

“People with alcohol, intoxicated with alcohol, tend to drive faster than people who are intoxicated with cannabis, so the simulation studies line up with actual, real-world data in Washington and Colorado, which is that we don’t see a big increase in fatalities; maybe minor accidents,” said Miller.

The Highway Loss Data Institute found in 2018 that “…legalization of marijuana is associated with increases in collision claim frequencies.”

“It’s hard to tell a real causal effect,” said Miller. “A lot of their work is just, accidents went up after legalization occurred.”

A Marquette University Law School poll in 2019 offered the following results:

Should doctor-prescribed medical marijuana be legalized?
Yes: 83%
No: 12%

Should marijuana be legalized?
Yes: 59%
No: 36%

The Republican Legislature is likely to snuff out this latest pot proposal.

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