Republicans in the Wisconsin Assembly on Monday proposed a tightly controlled, state run medical marijuana program. At a West Milwaukee press conference, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) said the bill will create the most restrictive medical cannabis program in the nation – not recreational use.
“One of the things that was the most concerning and we still are working with our law enforcement partners, they wanted to have as close to a guarantee as we possibly could that this would not lead to recreational marijuana.”
Under the proposal, the state Department of Health Services would have oversight of five dispensaries located around Wisconsin. “We thought if we can strategically place five dispensaries around the state, it will give us a good starting point,” said Representative Jon Plumer (R-Lodi) at the Capitol. “Now what will that expand? It could. The other thing that we put in the program is that a patient could have up to three caregivers who could pick up this product for them and transport it to their home.”
Speaker Vos said having state government oversight is a important component of the plan. “Marijuana is illegal. It is a controlled substance. And there certainly are drug runners who are using it every single day to commit crimes in Wisconsin,” Vos said. “So if we are going to say it is for a limited number of people in limited circumstances with a real condition, the state of Wisconsin is the only one that really has the ability to do it by making sure that law enforcement and every single rule is followed.”
Patients with conditions including cancer, epilepsy and multiple sclerosis would need a doctor’s prescription in order to receive a variety of smokeless options from the state operated dispensaries.
“For particularly veterans and those that suffer PTSD, traumatic brain injuries, so many other horrible effects from wartime, medical cannabis is something that can help. Not only 10s of 1000s of veterans but 10s of 1000s of cancer patients,” said Representative Tony Kurz (R – Wonewoc).
It’s unclear how it will fare in the Senate. “The Assembly’s medical marijuana proposal will move through the normal legislative process, including committee action, before being considered by the full Senate,” said Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu (R-Oostburg). “The specific details of the proposal are important and need to be thoroughly vetted before the Senate decides how to proceed.”
Governor Tony Evers has signaled support for medical marijuana, but warned of any “poison pills” in Republican legislation. Democrats including Evers have called for legalized recreational use of cannabis. “The case is the Republicans have not seen the light on this issue,” Evers told WRN.
Neighboring Illinois, Michigan and Minnesota have passed laws allowing recreational use, while Iowa has a medical marijuana program.