Graham Kilmer
MKE County

Supervisors Seek Marijuana Referendum

Question to voters on legalizing pot would be identical to 2018 advisory referendum.

By - Jul 5th, 2022 08:15 pm
A joint. Pixabay License Free for commercial use No attribution required

A joint. (Pixabcannabis, ay License).

A group of supervisors are seeking to put an advisory referendum on ballots in Milwaukee County for the Nov. 8 election asking residents if they support the legalization of marijuana.

Specifically, the referendum would ask residents: “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?” The results of the referendum would not carry the weight of law, but would instead be intended for informational use by policymakers.

The referendum would be identical to one already put to county residents in 2018. The results were 70% of county voters in favor. That referendum was approved by the board with all voting in favor except Sup. Patti Logsdon.

Perhaps anticipating questions regarding the need for a duplicative referendum just four years later, the resolution, authored by Sup. Ryan Clancy, states, “It is important that Milwaukee County ask its voters the same question to better understand how people’s views are changing on the issue of marijuana legalization, and to help put a stop to the waste of public resources toward enforcement which unjustly affects people of color.”

The legislation already has six co-sponsors in Supervisors Dyango Zerpa, Juan Miguel Martinez, Priscilla E. Coggs-Jones, Shawn Rolland, Sequanna Taylor and Peter Burgelis.

A poll by Marquette University Law School released in March found 61% of registered voters in Wisconsin support marijuana legalization. Among voters that identified as Democrats, support was 75%; and among self-identified Republicans, support was 51%. The poll found that support for legalization had steadily grown since 2013, when the poll found 50% of registered voters supported it.

The resolution headed to the county board states that, “The Wisconsin State Legislature has failed to act on legislation to legalize and regulate marijuana and has not even permitted medical cannabis (CBD only) which 37 other states and the District of Columbia have done.”

The legislation notes that many other states in the U.S. have already decriminalized or legalized marijuana use, and that marijuana enforcement disproportionately impacts people of color and young people; and that drug enforcement uses resources that could otherwise be used on solving more serious crimes. On top of this, it notes a study that states with legal, regulated marijuana will see billions in annual revenue by the end of the decade.

The Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors has limited control over drug laws in the county, which are largely governed by state and federal law, and some by municipal ordinance. But in recent years it has passed what legislation it can to limit the prohibition of marijuana locally. In 2021, former supervisor and current state Representative Sylvia Ortiz-Velez authored legislation, which the board passed, that reduced the fine for marijuana possession on county property up to 25 grams to just $1.

Wisconsin is currently an island of marijuana prohibition in the Midwest. Every state that shares a border has legalized recreational or medical marijuana.

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Categories: MKE County, Weekly

One thought on “MKE County: Supervisors Seek Marijuana Referendum”

  1. Colin says:

    What’s the point of asking this again? They already have the previous results. And the gerrymandered legislators won’t budge on it.

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