By Ana Martinez-Ortiz
The state of Wisconsin is preparing itself. Next week, Governor Tony Evers will release his proposed budget plan and Wisconsinites are looking forward to seeing what Evers plans in terms of healthcare, education and marijuana.
Earlier this week, Evers announced that his budget contains proposals which include the legalization of medical marijuana and the decriminalization of possessing small amounts of marijuana for personal use.
Another proposal would follow federal standards and allow the use of cannabidiol or CBD oil.
This could mean big things for Milwaukee, where a high amount of African-American men have been arrested for possession of marijuana. Evers said the change in laws would allow for an expungement procedure for “individuals who have completed their sentence or probation for possession.”
So far, approximately 30 states and the District of Colombia have legalized the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. Last November, Wisconsinites voted to approve non-binding referenda, which asked if marijuana should be legalized for medical or recreational use.
Upon his announcement, Evers received support from Democratic leaders such as Rep. David Crowley.
“As a cancer survivor, I know the side effects of a major illness can make everyday tasks a challenge,” Evers said. “People shouldn’t be treated as criminals for accessing a desperately-needed medication that can alleviate their suffering.”
Through the proposal, people suffering from medical conditions such as cancer, glaucoma, post-traumatic stress disorder, chronic pain, severe nausea and seizures would be allowed to use medical marijuana if their physician recommends it.
For many individuals suffering from an illness, medical marijuana could alleviate their pain. In certain cases, medical marijuana would become part of the treatment. If the proposal is passed, individuals would apply through the department of health services to receive an identification card, which would allow them to use medical marijuana.
Dispensaries interested in growing, selling, processing and testing medical marijuana would be subject to regulation to ensure the marijuana is safe for use. The proposal would require that all medical marijuana sold in the state would be grown here.
CBD oil, which is made from marijuana, would also be available for use. According to the press release, currently Wisconsin law requires that families in possession of CBD oil must have a yearly certification by a physician. The oil helps treat seizures in children. If Wisconsin were to align with the federal standards, it would eliminate the unnecessary barriers that prevent people from accessing CBD oil.
In other words, an individual could use CBD oil, which is known to alleviate chronic pain, without a physician’s certification.
Aside from changing the healthcare structure, the legalization of marijuana would change the lives of individuals who have been arrested for possession of marijuana. Wisconsin has the highest incarceration rate of black men in the country. Evers explained that his proposal would decriminalize the possession, manufacturing and distribution of marijuana for amounts of 25 grams or less.
“Too many people, often persons of color, spend time in our criminal justice system just for possessing small amounts of marijuana,” Evers said. “That doesn’t make our communities stronger or safer.”
The Wisconsin State Journal reported in early January that Republicans were not planning to support the legalization of medical marijuana. Upon Evers’ announcement this week, WSJ once again asked Assembly Speaker Robin Vos his opinion on the legalization. According to WSJ, Vos supported the use of medical marijuana in the past but said Evers’ proposal goes too far.
However, WSJ reported that Rep. Mary Felzkowski said she is working on a bipartisan proposal on medical marijuana legalization.
“This shouldn’t be a Republican issue or a Democratic issue, and I look forward to working on both sides of the aisle to pass this proposal in my budget,” Evers said.