Madison Police, Dane Co. District Attorney explain how legalizing marijuana would affect their jobs

Minnesota House Democrats Launch Push To Legalize Marijuana
Paul Sancya

Marijuana buds are shown at Huron View Provisioning in Ann Arbor, Mich., Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021. The first year of state-licensed recreational marijuana sales in Michigan saw $511 million of sales in recreational and $474 million in medical sales, generating over $100 million in tax revenue, but the state also found that the industry drastically failed to attract minority business owners.

MADISON, Wis.– If marijuana is legalized in Wisconsin, state agencies would regulate and tax the drug, but local agencies would still be responsible for enforcing it.

Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne said while the decision of legalizing marijuana is left up to the state’s legislature, allowing adults 21 and older to carry up to two ounces would not affect how his office currently charges these possessions.

“In Dane County we have not charged standalone simple possession of small amounts of personal use marijuana for some time.  That said we have seen many violent incidents such as armed home invasions, armed robberies, and homicides which have been connected to the trafficking of marijuana.  I do not know if the experiences and data from other states show legalization causes a reduction in these violent crimes,” Ozanne said in an email to News 3 Now.

Similar to other local law enforcement agencies, the Madison Police Department said it will continue to do its job, no matter what the law is.

“The Madison Police Department will continue to enforce local, state, and federal laws, prioritizing our efforts on things that most impact safety and quality of life in our community. While some states have decriminalized marijuana, any similar changes in Wisconsin Law should only be considered after a thoughtful process that includes an evaluation of decriminalization in other states, assessment of the potential impact on Wisconsin residents, and with due regard for public safety,” Madison Police Public Information Officer Tyler Grigg said in a statement emailed to News 3 Now.

The Madison Common Council approved measures to decriminalize marijuana in November 2020. A city ordinance allows people 18 and older to use or possess up to 28 grams of cannabis on public or private property.