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State Lawmaker Introduces Plan To Legalize Marijuana In Wisconsin

Proposal Is Unlikely To Pass GOP-Controlled Legislature

Rep. Melissa Sargent's bill would legalize marijuana use for both recreational and medicinal purposes. Photo: Cannabis Training University (CC-BY-SA)

A Democratic state lawmaker has introduced a plan in the Legislature that would fully legalize marijuana in Wisconsin.

Rep. Melissa Sargent, D-Madison, said she introduced her plan in part because of Colorado’s experience with legalization and because of what she sees as a turning of tides on the issue nationally. Sargent said people who worry about marijuana should consider how the law treats other drugs.

“Ultimately, it’s legal in Wisconsin to drink alcohol and it’s legal in Wisconsin to smoke cigarettes, and overall, when you look at the health effects of those two drugs in comparison to marijuana, it’s minimal,” said Sargent.

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Sargent’s bill would let Wisconsin residents who are 21 and older to carry up to a half-ounce of marijuana. Non-residents could carry up to a quarter-ounce. It wouldn’t let people smoke on the street, but they could smoke in their homes.

Sargent’s bill would legalize marijuana for both medicinal and recreational purposes.

“I just assume that we are able to be honest, that we let adults make the choices that adults are going to make, and know that ultimately there may be someone that’s going to try it because they were afraid to try it before when it was illegal, but it’s not going to change the consumption levels,” said Sargent.

Sargent’s proposal is unlikely to pass the Republican-controlled Legislature, although at this point it really hasn’t even been discussed. Even Sargent’s fellow Democrats have been leery about weighing in on the issue.

In past legislative sessions, some Republicans vigorously fought an effort to legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes only, arguing it would be a gateway to full legalization. The Wisconsin Medical Society has also opposed medical marijuana, saying more research was needed on its effects.