Gov. Tony Evers’ next two-year budget will include a proposal to legalize recreational marijuana as part of plan to generate more than $165 million each year for rural schools and underserved communities.
The proposal to tax and regulate marijuana similar to alcohol sales is likely to be shot down by the Republican-controlled Legislature, which has opposed efforts to legalize marijuana in the past. Thirty-six states have passed laws legalizing medical marijuana and 15 states are regulating recreational use of marijuana, including neighboring states Michigan and Illinois.
Some Republican lawmakers have supported legislation to legalize medical marijuana in recent years, including now Sen. Mary Felzkowski, R-Tomahawk, and Sen. Kathy Bernier, R-Chippewa Falls.
Bernier said Sunday that she’s open to legalizing medical marijuana and decriminalizing small amounts of the drug, noting it may have potential to help people break their addiction to drugs like methamphetamine or heroin. She said she’s willing to work with Evers, but also indicated his past efforts to decriminalize marijuana were a thinly veiled effort to legalize recreational weed.
Bernier called the governor’s proposal “divisive.”
“The bottom line is, he knows, I know, we know that the Republican Legislature is not going to legalize marijuana, per se,” said Bernier. “So, let’s talk about the things we can do, and work together.”