OP-ED: Wisconsinites Have Spoken, Marijuana Should Be Legalized, Taxed, Regulated

In last month’s midterm election, voters in several Wisconsin counties and cities made it known that we want our elected officials to legalize and tax marijuana – with regulations similar to alcohol.

Voters in southern Dane County all the way north to Superior overwhelmingly answered “Yes” to ballot questions like ‘Should marijuana be legalized, taxed, and regulated in the same manner as alcohol for adults 21 years of age or older?’ and ‘Should all records of previous convictions for marijuana possession in small amounts in the State of Wisconsin be expunged?’

The will of the people should be the law of the land, and that’s why Governor Tony Evers has committed to prioritizing marijuana legalization in his next budget. In fact, Gov. Evers has tried for years to pass common sense marijuana provisions during the budget process, but these efforts have been obstructed at every turn by our Republican-controlled legislature.

Gov. Evers put forth a budget proposal last year that would have fully legalized and taxed marijuana, treating it similar to alcohol and bringing in $167 million per year in new tax revenue, which he planned to use for investments in all our communities, including those that have suffered most under our outdated laws related to marijuana.

Revenue from marijuana taxes, under what Gov. Evers proposed, would mean more money for our schools, our hospitals, our roads, and our environment. But instead of acting on Gov. Evers’ common sense approach, legislative Republicans struck it down.

This isn’t a new phenomenon – Republican politicians in Wisconsin have a long history of refusing to advance or support marijuana legislation that would grow our economy, help people in pain, and work toward a more equitable criminal justice system.

Current marijuana laws, which disproportionately target Black and Brown Wisconsinites, hurt us all.

GOP partisanship is standing in the way of common sense, compassion, and reform. As we close out 2022 and welcome a new budget cycle, call your legislator at 1-800-362-9472 and demand they support legalized, taxed, and regulated marijuana in Wisconsin.

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A Better Wisconsin Together is a state-based research and communications hub for progressives and is an affiliate of ProgressNow.