Economic Stimulus Package: Marijuana Legalization Bill Filed in Wisconsin

MADISON, WI — With a state budget talks at a standstill, a Wisconsin state representative has introduced a bill to create a “true economic stimulus package” for the state: legalizing and taxing marijuana sales.

Wisconsin state Rep. Melissa Sargent (D-Madison) introduced the bill Thursday. This is Sargent’s third attempt to legalize marijuana in Wisconsin, having watched her previous two legalization bills die without a legislative hearing.

Sargent hopes the third time is a charm, telling reporters at a press conference Thursday that legalizing marijuana in Wisconsin has “never been more worthy of consideration.”

Sargent’s bill would authorize both the medical use of marijuana by those who qualify, as well as recreational use of marijuana by adults. Marijuana sales would be regulated, with recreational consumers paying a sales and excise tax.

Under the proposal, Wisconsin residents 21 or older would be allowed to possess up to two ounces of marijuana.  Non-resident visitors to the state who are at least 21 years old would be allowed to possess up to a quarter ounce.

Patients 18 or older suffering from a debilitating medical condition would be allowed access to medical marijuana. Minors under 18 with qualifying medical conditions would be allowed to participate in the medical marijuana program with the consent of their parent or guardian, as well as doctor approval.

Medical marijuana patients would be allowed to possess up to three ounces of marijuana. The proposed law would require medical insurance to cover medical marijuana for qualified patients.

Home cultivation of up to six cannabis plants for personal use would also be allowed, and the bill would prohibit employers from discriminating against marijuana users unless the substance interfered with work.

Driving under the influence of marijuana would be treated similarly to alcohol. The bill would also exempt marijuana from recently enacted laws requiring drug testing for some public benefits.

The bill requires schools to teach children about marijuana similarly to the way they teach about alcohol and tobacco use. .

“I’m a mom of four,” Sargent said. “I’m also someone who has never chosen to use marijuana. I’m not saying by legalizing marijuana in the state of Wisconsin that I think everyone should go out and get high tomorrow, or the day after we get the bill.”

But, she added, “the most dangerous thing about marijuana in Wisconsin is that it remains illegal.”

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