Democratic lawmakers announce legislation to fully legalize marijuana in Wisconsin

SOUTH BELOIT, Ill. — State Democratic lawmakers on Tuesday announced a new bill that would fully legalize marijuana in Wisconsin.

During a press conference outside of South Beloit’s marijuana dispensary, State Sen. Melissa Agard, one of the bill’s sponsors and a longtime advocate for legalization, said passing the bill would address racial inequities in the justice system, create a safe market for users, and provide economic opportunity for the state.

“Wisconsin is an island of prohibition. Prohibition has not worked when it comes to alcohol,” Agard said. “It did not work with margarine, and it’s not working when it comes to cannabis.”

The proposed bill would direct roughly half of the tax revenue generated by sales into community reinvestment grants aimed toward helping communities most impacted by marijuana’s prohibition. Agard said legalizing the drug would bring in a projected $165 million in tax revenue.

“Not only will this proposal allow our state to right past wrongs, it will also open countless doors to our farmers and agricultural sector to participate in a growing industry,” Agard said. “Wisconsin can no longer ignore the cannabis industry – we are losing out on millions of dollars and family sustaining jobs to our neighboring states.”

Agard said lawmakers will have roughly two weeks to sign on as co-sponsors if they chose to.

Gov. Tony Evers proposed legalizing recreational marijuana as part of his 2021-23 biennial budget, but the provision was ultimately cut by GOP lawmakers. At the time, local lawmakers said they’d adapt to new regulations on the drug if it was legalized.