Wisconsin Republican proposal to legalize medical marijuana coming in January

By SCOTT BAUER Associated Press

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin Republicans plan to unveil a proposal soon to legalize medical marijuana in the state and could vote on it sometime in 2024, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said.

Republicans have been working behind closed doors for years on a medical marijuana bill. Along the way, they have rejected calls from Gov. Tony Evers and other Democrats to legalize all uses of marijuana, including medical and recreational.

Vos, in an interview Wednesday, said the proposal will be limited and modeled after the medical marijuana law that had been in place in neighboring Minnesota before it moved to full legalization.

“It is not going to be widespread,” he said. “We are not going to have dispensaries on every corner in every city.”

He said Assembly Republicans are on board in concept, but no one has seen the actual proposal yet. He expected to unveil it in January. Vos had said in April that he hoped to have the bill by the fall of 2023, but he said it took more time to find consensus.

“In concept most people are there, but I don’t want to guarantee anything until we have a wider discussion,” he said. “I feel pretty good that we’re in a place where I think it can get through our chamber.”

If passed by both the Senate and Assembly, it would have to be signed by Evers before taking effect.

Senate Republicans have been less open to pot legalization than those in the Assembly. But in January, Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu said a bill to create a medical marijuana program could pass this legislative session — as long as regulations are put forward to ensure it’s for those in serious pain.

Vos has long backed some form of medical marijuana program, but no bill has ever received a vote in either the GOP-controlled Assembly or Senate.

Wisconsin remains an outlier nationally, with 38 states legalizing medical marijuana and 24 legalizing recreational marijuana. The push for legalization in Wisconsin has gained momentum, as its neighbors have loosened laws.

Marquette University Law School polls have shown large majority support among Wisconsin residents for legalizing marijuana use for years.