Wisconsin Cannabis Law and How You can Help Legalization

Trying to understand cannabis law can be difficult given that laws can differ between federal, state and even individual cities. Supporting legalization of cannabis in the United States means more uniform laws and regulations. This means that individuals seeking medical marijuana or recreational use can do so safely. As of April 2022, recreational marijuana is legal in 18 states. 31 states have decriminalized minor marijuana offenses.

Where does Wisconsin Stand on Marijuana?

The state of Wisconsin has not currently legalized marijuana for recreational use (as of March 2022). The only medical marijuana allowed is with non-psychoactive CBD. There are places with local (city) decriminalization where the penalty for minor marijuana offenses is met with just a fine. More information on these cities can be found on the NORML page for Wisconsin Local Decriminalization

While marijuana is not legal in the state, hemp is legal under the 2018 Farm Bill. Hemp is the low-THC variety of the cannabis plant. Products containing less than .03% of THC are considered federally legal in the United States. 

Recently, there has been an increase in products available with hemp-derived cannabinoids including many versions of THC. While these products are technically legal at a federal level, state and local laws vary. Because of this, it is important when traveling to check on the laws in the state or city you are heading to. 

What can I do to help legalization?

By reading about cannabis law and educating yourself on the benefits of the plant, you are already helping! Many other people are also educating themselves about cannabis and support its legalization. According to a 2018 poll From Marquette Law School, 61% of Wisconsin residents support the full legalization of marijuana.

Additionally, there are multiple sources available to stay up to date on news regarding marijuana legalization and cannabis research. 

  • NORML provides updates on medical marijuana law including a weekly State Policy Update that highlights changes that are being made at the state level.
  • Marijuana Moment provides daily newsletters and describes themselves as sharing “up-to-the-minute news on the politics, business, science and culture of cannabis”.
  • Leafly is a great source of information on all things cannabis knowledge and culture to help educate consumers.

Wisconsin Cannabis Law Timeline

Below is a timeline of events as they pertain to Wisconsin cannabis law.
This is meant to include information on both hemp and marijuana.

Wisconsin is the country's leading hemp producer.
Products made from hemp include rope and cloth; many of which
were used to support the military.

The Controlled Substances Act passed in congress and
classifies marijuana as a Schedule 1 illicit drug.

    The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, also known as the
    2018 Farm Bill removed hemp from the DEAs list of controlled
    substances allowing production of hemp.
    A more detailed timeline of the events can be found
    on Timeline: Wisconsin’s Cannabis Story from Madison Magazine.

    Two attempts were made in 2021 to legalize marijuana.
    First, marijuana legislation by Governor Evers
    in his budget proposal from February .
    Unfortunately, portions of the budget aimed at
    establishing a medical marijuana system were later
    voted to be removed in May.
    In August three lawmakers presented their bill to establish
    medical marijuana for adult use in the state.
    In November a decriminalization bill was unveiled
    to establish standards for decriminalization state wide.

      In January, an announcement was made by Wisconsin lawmakers
      that they would file a medical marijuana bill. However, this bill
      comes with many restrictions as cannabis products allowed in the
      bill include only oils, pills, tinctures and topicals. Smokable cannabis
      would still be prohibited and patients would not 
      be allowed to grow their own plants.
      On April 20th, a senate hearing took place regarding the medical marijuana bill announced in January. This hearing is a step in the right direction. Conversation about medical marijuana means progress, but the bill comes with much criticism. These criticisms include, the limited number of qualifying ailments in the bill, not allowing cannabis flower, allowing employers to punish workers for cannabis use, and excluding those with prior drug convictions to be patients or work in the cannabis industry. Although there may be issues with the bill in its current state, there is still room for amendments to be made.
      August. If you live in the counties of Dane, Eau Claire and Milwaukee or in the cites of  Appleton, Kenosha and Racine you will see questions regarding cannabis legalization on your November ballots. This recent change to the ballots aims to gauge public interest in reforming the marijuana law. While we already know that the majority of Wisconsinites approve of legal marijuana, these votes will hopefully send an even clearer message to lawmakers of what the people want. While these votes will not create any changes in law, they could inspire future decision making in that direction.

      Ready to support the movement? 
      You can take action by contacting your state representatives and letting them know you support legalization. One easy way to do this is at Cannabis In Common, an organization dedicated to bringing legal cannabis supporters together. On their website, you select your state. Then, provide contact information to send either a pre-made email or phone call to your senators.

        My name is Amber. I am a cannabinoid consultant and columnist for Happy Trails. I have a Bachelor of Science in Biology. I enjoy learning about things I have passion for, and my family lovingly calls me a “human encyclopedia”.  Read more about Amber here.  



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        Jaeger, K. (2022, March 7). Top GOP Wisconsin Lawmaker Says Marijuana Legalization Will Come 'At Some Point' Despite Republican Resistance. Marijuana Moment. https://www.marijuanamoment.net/top-gop-wisconsin-lawmaker-says-marijuana-legalization-will-come-at-some-point-despite-republican-resistance/

        James, J. (2022, March 18). State Policy Update 3/18/2022. NORML. Retrieved March 24, 2022, from https://norml.org/blog/2022/03/18/state-policy-update-3/

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