Republicans May Oppose Medical Marijuana
Vos, Steineke say Evers’ support for full legalization has poisoned the discussion.
The way Democratic Gov. Tony Evers answered a question on legal marijuana use may have given Republican legislators afraid of “pot on every corner” reasons to take no action on legalizing medical marijuana.
At a recent Wisconsin Technology Council event days after he took office, Evers made three newsworthy statements when asked about medical and recreational marijuana. First, Evers said the 2019-21 state budget he gives lawmakers on Feb. 28 will include the “first steps” toward legalizing medical marijuana. He gave no specifics about how it would be regulated, however.
Second, he said he wants a discussion – and maybe a “statewide referendum” – on whether to legalize recreational marijuana. It would be the first statewide advisory referendum since 2006, when voters overwhelmingly recommended restoring the death penalty.
Third, he said he supports legalizing recreational marijuana: “I personally would sign [that bill into law]. I just want to make sure we do it correctly.”
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said he personally supports the carefully regulated use of medical marijuana. He made it clear that is his personal position, since the 63 Assembly Republicans who control half of the Legislature have not discussed the issue.
But, Vos said, “I do not want it to be a half-handed effort like in other states, where you can grow it yourself, you can get a phony doctor’s excuse… I don’t want to have medical marijuana – which I support – somehow lead us down the slippery slope to where there’s pot on every corner.”
Vos said he does not support legalizing recreational marijuana, so it was “incredibly counter-productive” for Evers to endorse both changes.
“He started out saying he’s open to legalizing medical marijuana and literally, in the same day, slid down the slope saying he would support full legalization – exactly what many [Assembly Republicans] are afraid of,” Vos told reporters, adding: “I hope he has not poisoned the conversation through his inexperience. But, perhaps, he has.”
That phrase “perhaps, he has” signals that it will be up to Evers – and not Assembly Republicans – to find a path forward on medical marijuana.
Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke said the governor’s comments “honestly played into the fears of a lot of us that support medical marijuana.” Medical marijuana “should be for people with debilitating disease, or chronic pain – things like that,” Steineke added.
Evers backing both medical and recreational use of marijuana “is a problem for a lot” of Assembly Republicans, Steineke said. “I’m not sure how we regain the trust that this is the first – and only step – when it comes to medicinal marijuana.”
Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald told reporters he does not expect the Republican-controlled Senate to debate legalizing marijuana use. “I still don’t believe the support is there … to move in that direction.”
“It is in the best interest of our state to look toward the future and recognize the vast medicinal, economic and social justice opportunities marijuana legalization would bring to our state,” she said in a statement announcing her new bill to make that change.
Sargent said 16 local governments held advisory referendums on Nov 6 that asked voters whether medical or recreational marijuana should be legalized and all referendums passed.
That proved that “the people are ahead of the politicians on this topic, and agree that the most dangerous thing about marijuana in Wisconsin is that it is illegal,” Sargent added.
Meanwhile, the Marquette University Law School poll released last week found 59 percent of those who responded favored legalizing marijuana; 35 percent were opposed. The Jan. 16-20 poll of 800 respondents had a margin of error of +/-3.9%.
Pollster Charles Franklin said that was significant change since the poll asked the same question in September of 2014, when only 46 percent backed legalizing marijuana and 51 percent opposed.
Wisconsin is part of a national “real change over the last 10 years” in views on legal marijuana, Franklin said. Ten states — including Michigan and the District of Columbia — have legalized recreational marijuana, while other states have legalized medical marijuana.
“Public opinion has actually moved quite substantially,” Franklin said.
More about the Legalizing of Marijuana
- Op Ed: State Is Ready for Medical Marijuana - State Sen. Jon Erpenbach - Feb 23rd, 2019
- The Contrarian: Evers Dead Wrong On Pot Convictions - George Mitchell - Feb 20th, 2019
- Evers Proposes Medical Marijuana - Laurel White - Feb 19th, 2019
- Rep. Zamarripa Statement on Gov. Evers Plan to Legalize Medical Marijuana - State Rep. JoCasta Zamarripa - Feb 18th, 2019
- Shilling Backs Gov. Evers’ Medical Marijuana Push - State Sen. Jennifer Shilling - Feb 18th, 2019
- Bowen Applauds Governor Evers’ Marijuana Proposals - State Rep. David Bowen - Feb 18th, 2019
- Sen. Erpenbach Applauds Gov. Evers’ Medical Marijuana Proposal - State Sen. Jon Erpenbach - Feb 18th, 2019
- Gov. Evers Announces Proposal to Reform Wisconsin’s Marijuana Laws - Gov. Tony Evers - Feb 18th, 2019
- WJI supports Gov. Evers’ cannabis initiative - Wisconsin Justice Initiative - Feb 18th, 2019
- The State of Politics: Republicans May Oppose Medical Marijuana - Steven Walters - Jan 28th, 2019
- Court Watch: Chisholm Supports Fully Legal Pot - Gretchen Schuldt - Jan 2nd, 2019
- Everyone Wants Legal Pot! - Gretchen Schuldt - Dec 31st, 2018
- Will Referendums Lead to Legal Pot? - Edgar Mendez - Nov 16th, 2018
- A Sweep for Marijuana Referendums! - Gretchen Schuldt - Nov 7th, 2018
- 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