As Democratic Governor Tony Evers faces more pressure to take action on the state budget this week, one of his proposals to legalize medical marijuana, which was previously stripped from the spending plan by Republicans, could be taken up for consideration again this fall by Republicans.
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) says he wants to work on legalizing medical marijuana this fall.
Gov. Evers' proposal would have legalized medical marijuana and decriminalized small amounts of recreational marijuana, which is a proposal Vos calls “half-handed.”
“It really wasn't about medical,” Vos said. “It was much more about [the] decriminalization of recreational marijuana. That 25 grams or whatever it was.”
The Republican leader is now hoping to have a conversation about the issue with his caucus this fall.
“The goal would be to try to show people that there is a path to be able to talk about this, to discuss it, to figure out a way for it, maybe a Wisconsin way, that isn't like Illinois or Michigan or Minnesota, but perhaps could work here in our state and actually get across the finish line,” Vos said.
Democrats waiting to see a GOP proposal, like State Rep. Melissa Sargent (D-Madison), say the devil is in the details.
“Speaker Vos was one of the leaders in removing cannabis from that budget process,” Sargent said. “Him popping out of his office and saying this is something he wants to talk about as if it's his newest, freshest idea, where in fact there have been people who have been talking about this and leading the conversation for quite some time.”
Rep. Sargent has had many of those conversations. She introduced her fourth bill to fully legalize marijuana during this legislative session.
“I think it's pretty clear that Speaker Vos realizes, because of public pressure, that he made a mistake by not, not supporting this conversation when it came out of the docket at the beginning of this session and he's playing some catch-up,” Sargent said.
According to the latest Marquette Law School poll from April, 83 percent say medical marijuana should be legal.
Though there could be support for a proposal in the Assembly, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) has opposed legalizing medical marijuana and says finding support in the Senate could be tough.