Legal marijuana in Wisconsin; poll finds 61% support

The latest Marquette University Law School poll found, for the first time, a majority of Republicans favor legalizing marijuana sales in Wisconsin.

But there's a big difference in what polls say and what politicians do. So where does the push for legal weed in Wisconsin stand?

The legislative year is almost over. The weed bills have not even made the first step of getting a hearing. Democrats and Republicans have introduced bills to allow medical marijuana, while Democrats also hope to legalize recreational use.

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Neighboring states Michigan and Illinois allow the sale of recreational marijuana.

"I don’t necessary see why they wouldn’t. All the states around us are. Anyone who is going to, is going to get access to it," said Milwaukee resident Kiefer Zuelstdorf.

The latest Marquette poll asked Wisconsin residents if marijuana should be allowed – a question the poll has been asking for almost 10 years. Now, the number backing it is at its highest – 61% of Wisconsinites saying "yes," while 31% say "no." Among Republicans polled, 51% said pot should be allowed in Wisconsin.

"We’ve seen across-the-board increases. This is true in national polling as well, but I do think the shift among Republicans is interesting," said Charles Franklin, the poll's director. "The party that has been most staunchly opposed to enacting legislation on marijuana legalization."

Support for marijuana in Wisconsin was lowest in 2014, when Colorado stores first began selling weed. 

"It comes with certain social ills, but it also comes with a lot of tax revenue," said Larry Lavelle, a Colorado residents who was in Milwaukee on Thursday.

Colorado took in $423 million in tax revenue from pot in 2021.

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A Wisconsin-based group, Your Choice Prevention Education, urges kids to say "no" – saying legalizing marijuana could lead more kids to experiment. That is something the group said it is worried about, citing studies that link marijuana use to increased risk for psychiatric disorders, depression and anxiety.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) has backed medical marijuana, while Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu (R-Oostburg) says it is a federal – not a state – issue.

State Sen. Janet Bewley (D-Mason) said no weed proposals will pass this year, but they are talking about possibilities.

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