Wisconsin legislators have introduced a new marijuana legalisation bill.

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“The most hazardous aspect of cannabis is because it is illegal,” state lawmaker Melissa Agard remarked. “For far too long, opponents of legal cannabis have spread lies in order to terrify people.” Sen. Agard hopes to change that with a newly proposed bill that would legalise, tax, and regulate marijuana in Wisconsin.

The bill, introduced in the Wisconsin State Assembly by Rep. David Bowen, would legalise and make cannabis available to people 21 and older in the state. Residents were permitted to possess up to two ounces of marijuana and cultivate up to six plants for personal use. After being diagnosed by a physician, it would allow medicinal marijuana patients to obtain cannabis without paying taxes. The bill would also allow for the expungement of previous marijuana offences. Agard stated that realistic forecasts estimate new revenue for the state at least $165 million, with 60 percent of that amount allocated to reinvesting in local communities harmed by the War on Drugs.

This is not the first time Agard has submitted this bill; in the past, it was routinely defeated by the Republican legislature without even a public hearing. “In 2013, they warned me that writing this legislation would be the end of my career. They argued it was too severe, and the timing was off,” she stated in a speech introducing the law. “Today, it is safe to state that the landscape has shifted, and support has increased and continues to increase. It is safe to conclude that there was a paradigm change in both our country and the state of Wisconsin.”

Data that is reliable

Unlike Republican politicians, who have decided that Wisconsin cannot have safe and legal marijuana, Agard’s plan is based on factual evidence demonstrating how popular the measure is. According to a Marquette University poll conducted in 2019, 59 percent of Wisconsin voters approve recreational marijuana and 83 percent support medical marijuana. This merely confirms the results of Wisconsin’s 2018 advisory referendum on marijuana, in which a bipartisan coalition of nearly one million voters overwhelmingly approved the legalisation of both recreational and medical marijuana—70 percent of voters in Milwaukee County and 76 percent in Dane County voted for legal recreational weed, and up to 85 percent voted in favour of medical marijuana. “It is foolish for Republicans to refuse to enable Wisconsinites to speak on this issue,” Sen. Agard said.

Sen. Agard flew to South Beloit, Illinois, to promote her measure. Standing within a few yards from the Wisconsin state line. The Sunnyside cannabis shop, which opened as the largest cannabis retail facility in the state despite being located in a tiny town of 8,000 people, is representative of the tax money that are constantly flowing out of Wisconsin and into more modern states. Sen. highlighted that the dispensary’s parking lot was full with Wisconsin licence plates, and that the dispensary’s first sale was to a Wisconsin citizen.

South Beloit Mayor Ted Rehl confessed that his town’s finances is dependent on Wisconsin’s failure to legalise marijuana. Governor Tony Evers quipped that he is “weary of talking to the Governor from Illinois” because Governor Pritzker of Illinois continues praising Evers “for having Wisconsinites cross the border to buy marijuana.” In the first half of 2021, out-of-state customers—mostly Wisconsinites who came to enjoy Illinois’ sensible cannabis policy—spent no less than $231 million on legal marijuana on the other side of the state line.

“Wisconsin is a prohibition island. Prohibition did not work for alcohol; it did not work for margarine; and it is not working for cannabis,” she said in front of the South Beloit marijuana retail store. “We urgently need to alter our state’s policies,” she added, adding that the current state of affairs in Wisconsin is “embarrassing.” This new legalisation initiative seeks to right that mistake by addressing racial discrepancies in how prohibition is enforced, assisting our farmers, freeing innocent criminals, and providing a significant economic benefit to the entire state.

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