Wisconsin may soon become the latest U.S. state to legalize adult-use cannabis. On September 22 of this year, a bill drafted by Sen. Melissa Agard (D-Madison) and Rep. Darin Madison (D-Milwaukee) was introduced in the state legislature. This is the latest in a series of legalization initiatives in the Badger State.
The bill would make it legal for adults in Wisconsin to legally possess up to five ounces of cannabis. Under the new law, possession over the 5-ounce limit would be considered a misdemeanor.
At present, possession of any amount of cannabis is considered a misdemeanor under state law, with subsequent possession offenses being considered felonies. It is worth mentioning that some Wisconsin localities have established more permissive norms. For example, Dane County (where the state capital Madison is located) will generally not prosecute adults for cannabis possession, where the amount does not exceed 28 grams.
Sen. Agard and Rep. Madison’s proposal would also make it legal for localities to permit the establishment of consumption lounges. It also calls for the automatic expungement of non-violent cannabis offenses from criminal records.
Sen. Agard has referred to Wisconsin as an “island of prohibition,” noting that “right now, we are seeing our hard earned money go across the border to Illinois, Michigan, and Minnesota to the tune of tens of millions of dollars each year” (readers unfamiliar with Wisconsin’s geography can check out the state highway map; the state’s two largest cities are both about an hour away from the Illinois border). This highlights an uncomfortable reality for those states that buck the legalization trend of their neighbors: Their residents will still be able to get cannabis legally, yet the economic windfall will stay on the other side of the state line. Geography is destiny, as the consequences of legalization next door demonstrate.