Gretchen Schuldt

County Board Okays Pot Referendum

Hope is that advisory referendum will push state legislators to act.

By , Wisconsin Justice Initiative - May 25th, 2018 01:06 pm
John Weishan, Jr.

John Weishan, Jr.

There will be a Nov. 6 advisory referendum on marijuana legalization in Milwaukee County.

The County Board voted, 15-1, Thursday to approve the referendum. The lone vote against it came from Supervisor Patti Logsdon, who had voted in favor when the referendum was before the Judiciary, Legislation and General Services Committee. Logsdon said she decided to change her vote after hearing from constituents.

The referendum question will ask, “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?”

County Supervisor John Weishan, Jr., the original sponsor of the measure, said during Thursday’s meeting that a referendum could prod the Legislature to take action on recreational and medical marijuana issues.

“We need to get them moving on those things today,” he said.

Supervisory Anthony Staskunas said he was not totally sold on the idea of legal recreational marijuana, but said that “it’s shameful” that a few state senators and representatives “have stood in the door and refused to allow medical marijuana to come to a vote in the State Legislature.”

Staskunas said he has a friend with a serious disease who gets relief from cannabis. He said he resented “that a very small group of legislators are turning” his friend “into a criminal.”

On the recreational cannabis issue, he said, he wanted to hear from employers, medical personnel and law enforcement before coming to a conclusion about it, although he called the state’s felony second-offense marijuana possession law “a travesty.”

“In the meantime…there’s certainly nothing wrong with allowing the people of Milwaukee County to have their voice on this,” he said.

Supervisor Supreme Moore Omokunde supported the referendum and predicted nationwide cannabis legalization within five years. Moore Omokunde said he will be bringing forth legislation to expunge old marijuana offenses from criminal records.

Without expungement, he said, “There will be rich white men make their millions” while black men remain locked up for marijuana offenses.

Supervisors Moore Omokunde, Sequanna Taylor, Steven Shea, Marcelia Nicholson, Felesia Martin, Jason Haas, Dan Sebring, and Marina Dimitrijevic joined the resolution as co-sponsors.

Gretchen Schuldt writes a blog for Wisconsin Justice Initiative, whose mission is “To improve the quality of justice in Wisconsin by educating the public about legal issues and encouraging civic engagement in and debate about the judicial system and its operation.

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