Senate Republican Leader: No Legal Marijuana, but Tax Cuts Possible

Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu on Thursday closed the door to legalizing medical or recreational marijuana in Wisconsin in the foreseeable future, but said Republicans will seek to hold the line, or possibly cut taxes, during the upcoming state budget negotiations.

LeMahieu, R-Oostburg, said Senate Republicans do not have the votes to pass any marijuana legislation on their own, driving a stake through another one of Gov. Tony Evers’ signature policy goals for the state budget process.

“We have some societal concerns,” LeMahieu said. “We don’t have support from the caucus. We don’t have 17 votes” — which would be a majority of the Senate where Republicans hold a 21-12 advantage.

LeMahieu said the discussion around medicinal marijuana needs to start at the federal level because the drug is still on the list of federally controlled substances. He said he’s not comfortable with Wisconsin becoming a “rogue state,” legalizing it beforehand without federal blessing. Seventeen states, including neighboring Michigan and Illinois, have legalized recreational marijuana.

LeMahieu said Republicans are still interested in holding the line on tax levels and potentially even cutting taxes, specifically through reductions in income tax or eliminating personal property taxes for small businesses.