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Rep. Sargent to introduce Wisconsin Cannabis Legalization bill

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Rep. Melissa Sargent (D-Madison) has announced through a press release she is introducing a bill that would "legalize possession of marijuana for recreational and medicinal purposes in Wisconsin." Rep. Sargent recently made state news for supporting cannabis legalization on the Devil's Advocate radio show.

The cosponsorship memo notes that "Cultural attitudes, fairness, economics, and entrepreneurial behavior all point to the extension of this trend toward legalization." It goes on to cite issues including racial disparities as well as public support in national polls as well as the economic potential legalization offers.

The memo concludes, "LRB 3671/1 would create a regulatory framework for marijuana possession and distribution. It would also standardize age of use as well as penalties for operating while under the influence. "

According to the Legislative Reference Bureau analysis, LRB-3671/1 would allow adult state residents to "to possess no more than one-half an ounce of marijuana, 8 ounces of marijuana-infused product in solid form, or 36 ounces of marijuana-infused product in liquid form." Out of state adults would be able to possess up to half those amounts.

The bill also includes provisions for obtaining a permit to grow and distribute cannabis. There is no provision for home grown cannabis as Colorado's Amendment 64 has, which allows cultivation of six plants.

Lawmakers have until 4:00 PM on Friday, February 7th to sign on as original cosponsors. With

In a recent Capital Times article, "Wisconsin Democrats remain wary of marijuana legalization," Jack Craver reported a reticence by many state Democrats so far to embrace legalization, noting that when the Assembly passed SB150, the backward pot bill on Jan. 21, "passed on a voice vote, a procedure that is used to quickly approve noncontroversial bills." Republican support may be hard to come by also, given their refusal as a block to cosponsor medical cannabis legislation going back many sessions.

LRB-3671/1 is a small step forward that retains the possibility of felony charges for those who stray outside the lines. But as perhaps the first cannabis legalization bill to be introduced in the state legislature, this is a big step forward and certain to further the state debate over legalization.

Here is the full analysis from the Legislative Reference Bureau:

"Analysis by the Legislative Reference Bureau

Current law prohibits a person from manufacturing, distributing, or delivering marijuana; possessing marijuana with the intent to manufacture, distribute, or deliver it; possessing or attempting to possess marijuana; using drug paraphernalia; or possessing drug paraphernalia with the intent to produce, distribute, or use a controlled substance. This bill changes state law so that state law permits a Wisconsin resident who is over the age of 21 to possess no more than one-half an ounce of marijuana, 8 ounces of marijuana-infused product in solid form, or 36 ounces of marijuana-infused product in liquid form and so that state law permits a nonresident of Wisconsin who is over the age of 21 to possess no more than a quarter ounce of marijuana, 4 ounces of marijuana-infused product in solid form, or 18 ounces of marijuana-infused product in liquid form. This bill also eliminates the prohibition on possessing or using drug paraphernalia that relates to marijuana consumption. A person who possesses more than the maximum amount but not more than 20 grams of marijuana is subject to a civil forfeiture not to exceed $1,000 or imprisonment not to exceed 90 days or both and a person who possesses more than 20 grams of marijuana is guilty of a Class I felony. In addition, under the bill, the cultivation of marijuana is a Class I felony and the use of marijuana in public is subject to a civil forfeiture of not more than $100.

This bill also creates a process by which a person may obtain a permit to sell marijuana. Under this bill, a person who does not have a permit to sell marijuana may not sell, distribute, or transfer marijuana, or possess marijuana with the intent to sell or distribute it. A person who violates the prohibition is guilty of a Class I felony except that the felony classification increases to a Class H felony if the person sells, distributes, or transfers the marijuana to a person who is under the age of 21 (minor) and the person is at least three years older than the minor.

This bill prohibits a permittee from selling, distributing, or transferring marijuana to a minor and from permitting a minor to be on premises for which a permit is issued. If a permittee violates one of those prohibitions, the permittee may be subject to a civil forfeiture of not more than $500 and the permit may be suspended for up to 30 days.

Under this bill, a minor who does any of the following is subject to a forfeiture of not less than $250 nor more than $500: procures or attempts to procure marijuana from a permittee; falsely represents his or her age to receive marijuana from a permittee; knowingly possesses marijuana; or knowingly enters any premises for which a permit has been issued.

This bill changes state law regarding marijuana. It does not affect federal law, which generally prohibits persons from manufacturing, delivering, or possessing marijuana and applies to both intrastate and interstate violations."

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