The state of Wisconsin could be the next to see major changes in cannabis policy reform as Governor Tony Evers has included provisions to both decriminalize possession of small amounts of cannabis and expand access to CBD and other medical marijuana products. The bill would also create a system for licensing cultivators, testers and retailers, permit home cultivation of medical marijuana and allow people to expunge past cannabis-related convictions.
“As a cancer survivor, I know the side effects of a major illness can make everyday tasks a challenge,” the governor said. “People shouldn’t be treated as criminals for accessing a desperately-needed medication that can alleviate their suffering.”
Currently, the state allows CBD for seizure disorders only – but the new proposal would remove the requirement for a doctor’s recommendation for CBD. Instead, the new bill would create a full medical cannabis program where it could be grown and sold within the state, where patients with one or more of any listed conditions (such as cancer, AIDS, chronic pain, PTSD, glaucoma and more) could access full strength medical cannabis.
“It’s not just about access to health care, it’s about connecting the dots between racial disparities and economic inequity,” Evers said. “Too many people, often persons of color, spend time in our criminal justice system just for possessing small amounts of marijuana. That doesn’t make our communities stronger or safer.”
If passed, the proposal within the spending bill would decriminalize the possession, manufacturing or distribution of 25 grams or less of cannabis. It would also create a procedure specifically to help those who have completed a sentence or probation to easily get their record expunged.
“Gov. Evers’ proposal to include medical cannabis along with cannabis decriminalization in the state budget is the most significant cannabis policy reform plan ever proposed by a Wisconsin governor,” Gary Storck, a longtime marijuana reform advocate and publisher of the Wisconsin-based site Cannabadger, told Marijuana Moment. “As one who stumbled upon cannabis as a means to save my sight from glaucoma nearly 47 years ago, I’m thrilled and hope that lawmakers will adopt the budget with these provisions intact.”
All these potential changes to cannabis policy in Wisconsin are a positive sign and a huge step forward for the state if passed and made law. Some lawmakers in the state are concerned it is a path to full legalization and are uneasy, while others – like Governor Evers – have come to realize that it’s not a matter of ‘if’ as much as it is a matter of ‘when’. In the end, ensuring regulations are in place to ensure safe access to legal cannabis is the best thing lawmakers can do when considering introducing more sensible laws.