Milwaukee is moving in the right direction when it comes to marijuana policy.
A Milwaukee County Board committee has voted unanimously to put a marijuana referendum on the November ballot. The Judiciary, Safety and General Services Committee gave their approval to the proposal yesterday. Milwaukee County is the most populous county in the state of Wisconsin.
The election would not by itself end the prohibition of marijuana. It calls on the State of Wisconsin to legalize cannabis and allow for a regulated and taxed marijuana market.
Milwaukee County Supervisor John Weishan Jr. wrote the resolution that the committee approved. He told local media that the voters should decide cannabis policy. His proposal would give the voters of Milwaukee County a chance to consider the recreational use of cannabis. The referendum will also ask them to decide if a regulated and taxed commercial marijuana infrastructure is appropriate for the state.
Weishan said that state lawmakers should end cannabis prohibition to provide the economic opportunities others states currently have.
“It’s time for Wisconsin to join the many states across the country that have legalized marijuana and benefited from the revenue that comes with commercial sale and taxation of one of America’s largest cash crops,” he said.
Voters Will Decide in November
Now that the proposed referendum has been approved by the committee, it will head to the full Milwaukee County Board. It will consider the measure at a May 24 meeting.
If the measure is approved, the referendum will appear on the ballot for the general election on November 6. The ballot question reads:
“Do 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?”
Steven Shea, another member of the Judiciary, Safety and General Services Committee, told the press that the state should have acted long ago.
“This issue should have been addressed years ago,” Shea said. “Imprisoning people for possession of small amounts of marijuana, I believe is a scandal,” Shea said.
Activists Demonstrate for Legalization
Milwaukee has a vocal, active cannabis community calling for legalization. At a demonstration in the city last weekend, hundreds of activists called on the state to end cannabis prohibition.
Cannabis advocate Eric Marsch organized the event. He told the media that a majority of the state supports a change in marijuana policy. He also noted that drug policy reform can have other benefits.
“Fifty-nine percent of Wisconsinites support the legalization of cannabis,” he said. “States that have legalized medical cannabis in particular, see a 25 percent reduction in opiate overdose deaths.”
Missy Zoephel lives in Vilas County and came to Milwaukee for the demonstration. She said that legalizing cannabis will also help sick people who rely on black market marijuana to treat their conditions.
“Being able to go to a dispensary and know exactly what you’re getting, knowing exactly what the THC content is, that’s incredibly helpful. When you’re buying thins off the street, you don’t know what you’re getting,” she said.
Wisconsin currently has a very limited medical marijuana program. It only allows CBD, and few patients qualify to participate.