At the Capitol on Wednesday, a first-ever public hearing on a medical marijuana bill for Wisconsin. The measure from Senator Mary Felzkowski (R-Irma) would allow patients to access cannabis for a limited number of conditions in a limited number of forms, and does not include smokable.
“I know that smoking was big issue, and there’s a lot of people that would like smoking,” Felzkowski said. “The largest concern around smoking that our colleagues had, and we heard it from the outside groups, is that if there are children in the household or children near they could also be affected from that.”
Tomorrow, my committee will have a public hearing on my bill to establish a medical marijuana program in Wisconsin. If you aren’t able to come, please feel free to tune into the hearing live at https://t.co/1suiCjVw7g and listen to the conversation. pic.twitter.com/TfrJbu5RZZ
— Sen. Mary Felzkowski (@MaryFelzkowski) April 19, 2022
Representative Pat Snyder (R-Schofield), the bill’s Assembly author, defended the limited approach. “Because if you you try to do all at once then it would get shot down and we wouldn’t be able to get this through. So let’s work and take up those other kind of concerns later.”
Wisconsin is one of just 11 states that have not legalized some version of medical cannabis. The bill is similar to one which Felzkowski first introduced in 2019. It calls for a program to be overseen by a Medical Marijuana Regulatory Commission within the state Department of Revenue, with members chosen by the governor and legislative leaders.
Doctors, physician assistants and advanced practice nurse prescribers would be able to prescribe liquid or pill form medical cannabis to patients, for a limited number of medical conditions.
Felzkowski said she wished a medical marijuana option had been available while she was undergoing treatment for breast cancer in 2014, and said it’s time for Wisconsin to join the majority of states which allow it. “Thirty-seven other states don’t have it wrong. I think it’s time for Wisconsin to move in that same direction.”
While Wednesday’s hearing did not address the broader issue of legalizing marijuana for recreational use, advocates for that plan to continue bringing up legislation. State Senator Melissa Agard (D-Madison) has made repeated attempts to advance legalization, and she takes issue with the limited scope of the Republican measure.
“The bill . . . is a restrictive medicinal bill that does not provide access to the plant based products. It only provides access to tinctures and oils and pills, not the plant itself.”
Agard has proposed allowing people to grow their own marijuana for use, would have prevented outside businesses from selling cannabis in Wisconsin, and would have allowed for judicial remediation for those with cannabis convictions on their records. Her bills have never gotten a committee hearing.
Cannabis legalization is an issue I have been passionate about and continued working on for over nine years, since my first term in the State Legislature.
The most dangerous thing about cannabis in Wisconsin is that it remains illegal. It’s high time we legalize it. Happy #420🌱 pic.twitter.com/hOgqbJ6x6H
— Senator Melissa Agard 🌻 (@SenatorAgard) April 20, 2022
While Wednesday’s hearing will not result in any action because the legislature has adjourned for the year, both Felzkowski and Schneider pledged to reintroduce it next session.