Advisory referendum to conduct opinion poll on legalizing marijuana is introduced in Dane County

On Thursday, Dane County Board Supervisor Yogesh Chawla introduced an advisory referendum to see how the public feels about legalizing marijuana in Wisconsin.

If the board approves it, the question, “Should marijuana be legalized, taxed and regulated in the same manner as alcohol for adults 21 years of age or older,” would be added to the Nov 6 ballot.

Chawla said the referendum has 19 co-sponsors and he is confident it will make it onto the ballot.

Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon and Washington have legalized adult personal use of marijuana.

“The tax revenues alone that are coming from it are helping fund infrastructures, schools, and a lot of states are struggling with their budgets,” said Chawla.

Chawla said legalizing marijuana could also stop a pattern of racial bias in our justice system.

The referendum states that African Americans are disproportionally arrested for marijuana use and possession, with lifelong negative affects on those convicted and their families.

“We look at the racial disparities issues we have, specifically in Wisconsin and in Dane County. They’re some of the worst in the nation and this is a commonsense measure where we can help address those issues while also addressing a lot of the budgetary issues we have as well,” said Chawla.

He said Milwaukee and Rock counties are pursuing similar referendums. He hopes more counties move forward with this so the results will provide a more accurate idea of where Wisconsinites stand on the issue.

The advisory referendum must be assigned to a committee and then voted on by the Dane County Board of Supervisors before it is put on the ballot.

The referendum’s purpose is to see how the community feels about the legalization of marijuana. The Legislature would need to pass a law in order for marijuana to be legal in the state.