Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers has proposed legalizing marijuana and regulating and taxing it like the state does alcohol.
Evers made the proposal in his 2021-23 biennial budget, which estimates that legal marijuana would generate more than $165 million annually beginning in the second year of the biennium (Fiscal Year (FY) 23).
Under the proposal, Wisconsin would join 15 other states, including neighboring Michigan and Illinois, in legalizing recreational marijuana. The governor’s ’21-’23 budget proposal will increase revenue, create jobs, and reduce criminal justice system costs, while providing a pathway for those suffering from chronic or debilitating pain and illness to utilize the medicine they require.
“Legalizing and taxing marijuana in Wisconsin — just like we do already with alcohol — ensures a controlled market and safe product are available for both recreational and medicinal users and can open the door for countless opportunities for us to reinvest in our communities and create a more equitable state,” Evers said in a statement released by his office.
The governor’s announcement cited a 2019 Marquette University Law Poll showing that nearly 60% of Wisconsinites support the legalization of marijuana and 83% of Wisconsinites support the legalization of medical marijuana.
Evers previously called for medical marijuana legalization in his 2019-2021 biennial budget but Republicans in the Legislature rejected that proposal.
Under Evers’ current proposed budget, $80 million of the revenue generated by marijuana would be set aside to reinvest in communities across the state through a new Community Reinvestment Fund. Beginning in FY23, the Community Reinvestment Fund will fund $30 million in equity grants through the Department of Health Services, the Department of Administration, and the Department of Children and Families, respectively; $5 million to fund grants to underserved communities through the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation; and provide more than $34 million to support sparsity aid, which goes to small, rural school districts.
The remaining revenue would be deposited into the state’s general fund.
Marijuana would be taxed and regulated much like alcohol, and would be regulated by both the Department of Revenue (DOR) and the Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection. The proposal would require the sale of marijuana for recreational use to be sold by a marijuana retailer holding a permit issued by the DOR. Individuals would need to be 21 years of age to purchase marijuana for recreational use. All sales of recreational marijuana to minors would be prohibited.
The plan also provides a path for medical marijuana users to access the product without paying retail taxes.
There are certain limits placed on the sale and possession of marijuana under the proposal. Wisconsin residents can possess no more than two ounces of marijuana and six plants for personal use. Nonresidents can possess no more than 0.25 ounces of marijuana. Under the proposal, no marijuana processor or microbusiness that operates as a marijuana processor may make usable marijuana using marijuana grown outside of Wisconsin.
Source: Wisconsin’s Governor’s Office
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