MADISON – Governor Tony Evers has announced that his budget will include proposals to legalize medical marijuana, decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana for personal use, establish an expungement procedure for individuals who have completed their sentence or probation for possession, and align Wisconsin's laws on cannabidiol, also known as CBD oil, with federal standards.
The governor said he believes it is time for Wisconsin to join more than 30 other states and the District of Columbia in legalizing medical marijuana. Last year, nearly 1 million voters in 16 counties and two cities in Wisconsin voted to approve non-binding referenda asking if marijuana should be legal for medical or recreational use. Those referenda all passed by significant majorities.
Under the governor's proposal, a physician, or a practitioner under the direction of a physician, can recommend the use of medical marijuana to alleviate symptoms related to medical conditions such as cancer, glaucoma, post-traumatic stress disorder, chronic pain, severe nausea, and seizures.
The governor also wants to align Wisconsin's laws on cannabidiol, also known as CBD oil, with federal standards. CBD oil is made from marijuana and can be used to treat seizures in children. Currently, Wisconsin law requires families to possess CBD oil only with yearly certification by a physician. The governor said he believes that families and individuals should be able to obtain this treatment without additional barriers.
"As a cancer survivor, I know the side effects of a major illness can make everyday tasks a challenge," Evers said. "People shouldn't be treated as criminals for accessing a desperately-needed medication that can alleviate their suffering. Wisconsinites overwhelmingly agree that this is a critically important issue. But it's not just about access to health care, it's about connecting the dots between racial disparities and economic inequity."
Evers maintains that it is important to also address what he calls the social and racial justice aspect of marijuana use. Wisconsin has the highest incarceration rate in the country for Black men.
"That is why the governor will also decriminalize possession, manufacturing or distribution of marijuana for amounts of 25 grams or less," a statement from the governor's office said.
The language also would prevent localities from establishing their own ordinances or penalties for possession of less than 25 grams of marijuana. The governor's plan would establish an expungement procedure for individuals convicted of possessing, manufacturing or distributing less than 25 grams of marijuana who have completed their sentence or probation.
"Too many people, often persons of color, spend time in our criminal justice system just for possessing small amounts of marijuana. That doesn't make our communities stronger or safer," Evers said. "This shouldn't be a Republican issue or Democratic issue, and I look forward to working on both sides of the aisle to pass this proposal in my budget."