Election Asks Voters About Legal Pot
16 counties and 2 cities have referendums. Some 50 legislative candidates support change.
The Southeastern Wisconsin chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, or NORML, released results this week of a legislative candidate questionnaire which shows more than 50 candidates for the Legislature support either medical or recreational marijuana legalization or both.
According to the Southeastern Wisconsin NORML survey, the vast majority of candidate supporters are Democrats. Forty-three candidates support pardons for marijuana convictions. A majority of candidates for legislative office didn’t respond to the survey.
A Marquette Law School poll from last month suggests more than 60 percent of state residents support legalization and taxation.
“I would not anticipate that the Legislature is going to take action on this issue in the foreseeable future, but the citizens expressing their opinion? That’s what (these) referendum(s) will be,” said Wisconsin Counties Association Executive Director Mark O’Connell. “The issue of marijuana is not just a Wisconsin issue. The trend nationwide is clearly toward legalization. I think we may be a little more behind than out front.”
O’Connell said unlike a state like California with initiative referendums that can change a law based on a ballot initiative, counties and municipalities in Wisconsin can only put advisory referendums on the ballot. In the case of legalizing marijuana, the Wisconsin Legislature would have to approve a bill that the governor would sign into law.
There is no consistent theme in the 16 county referendums that ask people to weigh in on either the legality of medical or recreational marijuana or both.
“It really is coming onto our ballot because there is a sense that it’s an issue who’s time has come,” said Tara Johnson, chair of the La Crosse County board of supervisors. “We have done advisory referendum questions on a number of issues at the county level in La Crosse over the past number of years.”
Johnson said those referendums have dealt with questions ranging from the minimum wage to Medicare reimbursement. La Crosse County also has four advisory questions related to transportation funding on November’s ballot.
But an opponent of recreational marijuana in the state of Wisconsin believes there’s more to the advisory referendums than a want to legalize marijuana.
“I don’t see that La Crosse County has any power to do anything about this. I think it’s largely calculated as a political maneuver to drive Democrat turn-out at the polls,” said Bill Feehan, chair of the La Crosse County Republican Party. “The idea that we’re going to generate so much tax revenue that it’s going to be a boon for our government is certainly questionable.”
Feehan said local law enforcement is concerned about the impact legalizing recreational marijuana may have on emergency services based on their experience with alcohol overdoses.
“Any movement on this issue should be very slow. We should probably sit back and wait to see what happens in states like Colorado and Washington to see what the full impact of this is on society,” he said.
Feehan said given the opioid crisis in Wisconsin, it makes sense to look at reducing criminal penalties for marijuana. He said he could also support legal medical marijuana in Wisconsin.
Listen to the WPR report here.
Fall Election To See Referendums On Legal Pot In Wisconsin, Symbolically, At Least was originally published by Wisconsin Public Radio.
More about the Legalizing of Marijuana
- 52 Legislative Candidates Support Legal Pot - Isiah Holmes - Oct 11th, 2018
- Election Asks Voters About Legal Pot - John Davis - Sep 29th, 2018
- Pot Referendums on November Ballot - Gretchen Schuldt - Aug 30th, 2018
- Roys Releases Video Outlining Benefits to Legalizing Cannabis in Wisconsin - Kelda Roys - Jul 26th, 2018
- County Board Okays Pot Referendum - Gretchen Schuldt - May 25th, 2018
- County Board Overwhelmingly Approves Marijuana Referendum for November 6 Ballot - Sup. John F. Weishan, Jr. - May 24th, 2018
- Court Watch: Just 13% of City’s Pot Cases Involve Whites - Gretchen Schuldt - May 15th, 2018
- MKE County: Committee Okays Referendum on Legalizing Pot - Graham Kilmer - May 10th, 2018
- Public Hearing on Proposed Marijuana Referendum Set for Thursday - Sup. John F. Weishan, Jr. - May 9th, 2018
- Photo Gallery: Cannabis Marchers Demand Legalization - Jack Fennimore - May 7th, 2018
- Supervisor Weishan Proposing Marijuana Referendum for November Ballot - Sup. John F. Weishan, Jr. - May 3rd, 2018
- March for Cannabis – 8th Annual March to Legalize Cannabis in Wisconsin - Southeastern WI NORML - Apr 27th, 2018
- Op Ed: Public Opposes Trump Crackdown on Pot - Casey Hoff - Jan 6th, 2018
- Op Ed: Anti-Marijuana Campaign Is Misguided - Isiah Holmes - Dec 8th, 2017
- Op Ed: Don’t Legalize Marijuana - Bob Dohnal - Dec 6th, 2017
- Matt Flynn Comes Out in Favor of Legalizing Marijuana - Matt Flynn - Nov 14th, 2017
- Dem Lawmakers Push To Legalize Medical Marijuana - Dave Fidlin - Nov 2nd, 2017
- Legalizing Pot Could Be Windfall For Wisconsin - Gretchen Schuldt - Sep 29th, 2017
- Op Ed: Reduce Penalties for Pot Possession - Gretchen Schuldt - Aug 7th, 2017
- Op Ed: We Must Legalize Marijuana - State Rep. David Crowley - Jul 21st, 2017
- Gov. Scott Walker Defense of Taking Donation From Marijuana Industry Advocates While Calling For More Drug Testing: $25,000 Check Too Small to Influence Him - One Wisconsin Now - Jul 21st, 2017