MADISON, WI — Voters in the Wisconsin capital city of Madison, and the rest of Dane County, will vote on a non-binding referendum this spring asking residents if they think marijuana should be legalized in the state.
The question was placed on the spring 2014 ballot by country supervisors to see where voters stand on the issue.
“The question was an advisory non-binding referendum for the spring election asking the Dane County residents if they think the state government should enact policy to legalize marijuana,” said County Supervisor Leland Pan, who pushed to put the issue before voters.
While the question is non-binding, it gives voters the opportunity to express to lawmakers how they feel on the issue of marijuana legalization.
Recent polls have found that a majority of Americans support marijuana legalization, as well as half of Wisconsin voters. And that includes County Supervisor Leland Pan.
“For me personally, I am very supportive of full legalization,” Pan said. “I think it is a very pressing issue.”
While there has been no legislation introduced this year to legalize marijuana in Wisconsin, lawmakers will be considering a bill filed jointly in the Senate and Assembly late last year that would, if passed, allow medical marijuana use in the state.
If passed, the bills would allow registered patients to possess up to three ounces of medical marijuana. Patients or their caregivers would be allowed to grow up to twelve plants, or purchase their medicine from a state regulated, non-profit medical marijuana dispensary.
Caregivers would be allowed to treat up to five patients.
Under the proposal, medical marijuana dispensaries, or “compassion centers,” would be required to be located 500 feet or more from schools. All medical marijuana sold at the compassion centers would be required to be lab tested for mold, fungus, pesticides or other contaminants. The bill also authorizes medical marijuana dispensaries to provide delivery services to patients.
Specific qualifying conditions for Wisconsin’s proposed medical marijuana program would include cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, Chron’s disease, hepatitis C, Alzheimer’s, amytrophic lateral sclerosis, nail patella syndrome, Ehlers−Danlos Syndrome, and post−traumatic stress disorder.
Ailments also includes any chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition that causes cachexia, severe pain, severe nausea, seizures, including those characteristic of epilepsy, or severe and persistent muscle spasms, including those characteristic of multiple sclerosis.”
The bill allows the Department of Health Services to add additional ailments as necessary.
The bills have a combined 18 sponsors in both chambers of the legislature, all Democrats.
Under present law, the possession of any amount of cannabis in Wisconsin is classified as a criminal misdemeanor, punishable by up to six-month in jail and a $1,000 fine.
Any subsequent marijuana possession offense is classified as a felony, punishable by up to 3.5 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.