Legalize medical marijuana in Wisconsin; GOP lawmakers resurrect bill

Wisconsin State Capitol

A group of Republican lawmakers resurrected a bill Wednesday to legalize medical marijuana in Wisconsin, saying it's time to at least talk about using the drug as a natural way to help the sick treat their ailments naturally.

Sen. Mary Felzkowski and Rep. Patrick Snyder's bill would create a new state commission that would regulate medical marijuana. Physicians who earn commission certification would be allowed to prescribe marijuana in liquid or oil form, dissolved in alcohol or in a form applied to the skin. Inhalants would not be allowed. Medical marijuana wholesalers would be subject to a 10% state excise tax.

Thirty-six states have legalized marijuana for medical purposes, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Felzkowski told reporters at a news conference introducing the bill that her doctors prescribed her heavy doses daily of pharmaceutical drug cocktails while she was battling breast cancer and such drugs can debilitating. Wisconsin residents should have the option of trying medicinal marijuana, she said.

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"This is not a Republican issue and this is not a Democrat issue," she said. "When you look at the map of states where medical marijuana is legal, you will see conservative states like Florida and South Dakota and more liberal states like California and New York offering a compassionate option for those who need relief. It is time to have the conversation... in the state of Wisconsin."

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, a Republican, and Democratic Gov. Tony Evers both support legalizing medical marijuana. But the proposal faces long odds in the Senate.

Felzkowski introduced an identical bill last session, but it didn't gain any traction under then-Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald. His successor, Devin LeMahieu, said last year that legalizing medical marijuana should be done at the federal level. Republicans stripped provisions out of Evers' 2021-23 state budget that would have legalized marijuana for medical and recreational purposes.

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Felzkowski said at the news conference that LeMahieu is "more than willing" to allow a hearing on the bill now.

LeMahieu spokesman Adam Gibbs said LeMahieu was in his district Wednesday and he couldn't get comment from him.

Democratic state Sen. Melissa Agard of Madison issued a statement saying the bill doesn't go far enough because it doesn't legalize inhalants or recreational marijuana.

"The path forward for Wisconsin is full cannabis legalization for responsible adult usage," Agard said. "The bill introduced today only addresses a small fraction of those who will benefit from a legal medicinal market."

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