Wisconsin has long been known for its progressive politics. Yet on one of the more progressive issues of the era—the legalization of marijuana for recreational and/or medical use—Wisconsin has made essentially no progress. It is among the minority of states that have not legalized marijuana for any purpose.
Newly elected Governor Tony Evers has indicated he supports legalization of medical marijuana and supports allowing a ballot measure for the citizens of Wisconsin to determine whether to legalize recreational marijuana. The Wisconsin Legislature also recently introduced a bill to legalize marijuana for all uses, which has 18 sponsors in the Assembly and five in the Senate. There is no indication, however, that the bill has any reasonable chance of passing given the current makeup of the Legislature. There is also no sustained effort to pass a standalone medical marijuana bill.
While Wisconsin lags on marijuana policy, hemp-derived CBD is legal in the state and apparently thriving. Although anecdotal, according to a recent article, a CBD store in Viroqua, Wisconsin called the Kickapoo Kind recently had to move into a larger store to account for demand. Owner Tim Murphy emphasized the diversity of his customers, stating “[e]very single walk of life that you can think of has walked through that door.”
We will be watching Wisconsin closely over the next year. With the CBD industry growing in the state, we expect to see greater public acceptance of marijuana. And with Michigan and Illinois approving recreational marijuana, we also expect increased political pressure on legislators to capture tax revenue rather than watch consumers purchase marijuana from those neighboring states, particularly Illinois, which is easily accessible to millions of Wisconsinites. Stay tuned for further updates.