Will state lawmakers take up pot legalization?Advocates for legalizing marijuana for both medical and recreational purposes are cautiously optimistic about the state legislature taking up their cause this year.
By: By Gilman Halsted, Wisconsin Public Radio, Superior Telegram
Advocates for legalizing marijuana for both medical and recreational purposes are cautiously optimistic about the state legislature taking up their cause this year. They spent Wednesday talking with sympathetic lawmakers about two different bills they plan to push this year.
Members of a coalition of pro-pot groups met with state Senators and Representatives about both the health benefits and the tax revenue potential of making pot legal in the Badger state. Dennis Brennan has a prescription for medical marijuana from an Oregon doctor to treat Hepatitis C.
“My doctor has told me whatever you're doing keep doing it,” he said. “I have lowered my disease in the past ten years by 400 percent. And a lot of it has to do with the use of medical cannabis.”
Brennan is urging other medical marijuana patients to get prescription cards from Oregon or California where medical pot is legal. His goal is to build support for legalizing its medicinal use here.
“There is a movement and we have people who are willing to legitimize themselves,” Brennan said. “It's time for our legislature to get organized and realize that it's here. People are sick and it's time to help people here.”
Other members of the pro-pot coalition are more ambitious. Jay Kemp is the president of the southeastern chapter of the National Organization to Reform Marijuana Laws. He says full legalization of marijuana will result in both jobs and tax revenues.
“The best way to do that is through an industrial hemp as well as recreational, but we like it to call it responsible adult use,” he said. “Because you can't get the tax revenue through medicinal alone. ”
Leaders of the current Republican majority in the legislature don't have marijuana laws on their radar screens for this legislative session. But reform advocates like Kemp say they hope to at least get a medical pot bill through the committee process before the end of the year.