Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers proposes medical cannabis and statewide cannabis decriminalization in 2019-2021 state budget speech

UPDATED: 03/01/2019 6:26:15 PM On Thursday, Feb. 28, 2019, Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers delivered his 2019-2021 state budget speech at the Capitol. While the entire budget received a very chilly response from Republican lawmakers, who hold majorities in both houses, Gov. Evers did include both medical cannabis and statewide cannabis decriminalization, as he had promised.

Cannabadger examined both Gov. Evers’ entire 2019-21 Executive Budget as well as a shorter, “Budget in Brief” synopsis provided by his office.

According to the National Cannabis Industry Association, “all the states that have passed either medical or adult use marijuana laws have been through ballot initiatives or through the state legislative process.” A representative of the group offered this link as a reference. If Wisconsin lawmakers passed the budget with the medical cannabis measure, it would be the first state to do so via the budget.

Below are the budget details for Gov. Evers’ cannabis proposals, which face a very uncertain future from a very hostile legislative GOP caucus.

STATE OF WISCONSIN

Executive Budget 2019 – 21

TONY EVERS, Governor

Page: 58

DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE, TRADE AND CONSUMER PROTECTION

GOVERNOR’S BUDGET RECOMMENDATIONS

RECOMMENDATIONS

11.  Medical Marijuana

Page: 64

11.  Medical Marijuana

Agency Request

Source; 2019-2021 Wisconsin Budget

The Governor recommends providing funding to establish a medical marijuana program. The department will have oversight of individuals growing and selling marijuana for medicinal

Page: 122

CIRCUIT COURTS

GOVERNOR’S BUDGET RECOMMENDATIONS

RECOMMENDATIONS

1. Decriminalization of Small Amounts of Marijuana

Page: 125

Circuit Courts

  1. Decriminalization of Small Amounts of Marijuana

The Governor recommends the decriminalization of possession of marijuana in amounts of 25 grams or fewer. The Governor also recommends establishing an expungement procedure for individuals convicted of possessing, manufacturing or distributing less than 25 grams of marijuana who have completed their sentence or probation. The Governor further recommends establishing a procedure by which persons who have been previously convicted of possessing, manufacturing or distributing small amounts of marijuana may petition for dismissal of the conviction.

Page: 227

Health Services

DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH SERVICES

GOVERNOR’S BUDGET RECOMMENDATIONS

RECOMMENDATIONS

3. Medical Marijuana

Page: 230

3. Medical Marijuana

Agency Request

Governor’s Recommendations

Source FY20 FY21 FY20 FY21 of Funds Dollars Positions Dollars Positions Dollars Positions Dollars Positions GPR 0 0.00 0 0.00 440,000 0.00 0 0.00 PR-O 0 0.00 0 0.00 400,600 4.00 400,600 4.00 TOTAL 0 0.00 0 0.00 840,600 4.00 400,600 4.00

The Governor recommends providing funding to establish a medical marijuana program. The department will have oversight of individuals certified to use medical marijuana. See Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, Item #11; and Department of Revenue, Item #13.

Page: 448

Revenue

DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE

GOVERNOR’S BUDGET RECOMMENDATIONS

RECOMMENDATIONS

13. Medical Marijuana Surcharge and Sales Tax The Governor recommends imposing an excise tax on medical marijuana. A 10 percent surcharge will be placed on the dispensary’s list price for products. Medical marijuana will not be exempted from sales tax. The fiscal impact is an increase in tax revenue of $756,300 in FY20 and $1,512,500 in FY21. See Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, Item #11; and Department of Health Services, Item #3.

BUDGET IN BRIEF

TONY EVERS, GOVERNOR

FEBRUARY 2019

DIVISION OF EXECUTIVE BUDGET AND FINANCE DEPARTMENT OF ADMINISTRATION

Page: 12

II.  SUMMARY OF GOVERNOR’S MAJOR BUDGET INITIATIVES

A. “HEALTHY COMMUNITIES”

Page: 13

  • Establish a medical marijuana program in our state to help individuals suffering from debilitating medical conditions. Provide $840,600 in fiscal year 2019-20 and $400,600 in fiscal year 2020-21 as well as 4.0 FTE positions to operate the medical marijuana program.

Page: 15

B. “SAFE AND JUST COMMUNITIES”

  • Decriminalize small amounts of marijuana by eliminating the penalty for possession, distribution or manufacture of 25 grams of marijuana or fewer. A person serving a sentence or on probation for the possession, distribution or manufacture of 25 grams of marijuana or fewer may request dismissal of the conviction. Provide a means for persons convicted under prior law to petition a court for the expungement of their conviction.

Page: 57-58

Medical Marijuana

The Governor believes it is time to join the 23 other states that have legalized medical marijuana. For many Wisconsinites, medical marijuana will alleviate chronic pain, which is why organizations like the American Legion support legalization because of the documented health benefits for our veterans. Several studies have observed, in states that have legalized medical marijuana, lower rates of opioids being prescribed and lower opioid overdose rates.

The Governor recommends the Department of Health Services regulate the individuals who are certified to use medical marijuana. Individuals would have to have a debilitating medical condition with symptoms such as chronic pain or nausea, examples include cancer or post-traumatic stress disorder. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active chemical in marijuana, has been shown to increase appetite, reduce nausea, decrease pain and reduce inflammation. Individuals who wish to use medical marijuana must receive a written certification from a physician or practitioner under the direction of a physician. Individuals will pay a fee to the Department of Health Services and receive a card that identifies them as a qualified user of medical marijuana.

Individuals can purchase medical marijuana from a dispensary, the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection will have oversight over dispensaries. Dispensaries will be allowed to grow marijuana or purchase marijuana from an entity certified by the department to grow marijuana. All the medical marijuana consumed in our state must be grown in our state and individuals operating a dispensary must have been a Wisconsin resident for at least two years. These regulations will protect Wisconsin businesses and farmers. The department will require all medical marijuana sold is tested for mold, fungus, pesticides and other contaminates by testing laboratories.

Previously only individuals with a doctor’s certification could possess and use cannabidiol, also known as CBD. Cannabidiol is usually sold as an oil, and it has been shown to reduce inflammation and help control seizure disorders. The Governor’s budget allows the general public to possess

Page: 60-61

B. “SAFE AND JUST COMMUNITIES”

Criminal Justice Reform

Many states, including our neighbors in Illinois, Michigan and Minnesota, have either legalized or decriminalized marijuana. The Governor recommends the decriminalization of small amounts of marijuana by eliminating the penalty for the possession, distribution or manufacture of 25 grams of 54 marijuana or less. Additionally, a person serving a sentence or on probation for the possession, distribution or manufacture of 25 grams of marijuana or fewer may request dismissal of the conviction. The budget would also provide a means for persons convicted under prior law to petition a court for the expungement of his or her conviction.

Page: 104

REVENUE ESTIMATES GENERAL FUND TAX CHANGES

TABLE 9: GENERAL FUND TAX CHANGES ($ in millions)

Revenue Enhancement Measures

Medical Marijuana Baseline Sales Tax 0.3 0.5 Medical Marijuana 10% Surcharge 0.5 1.0

UPDATE: The budget has been introduced as Senate Bill 59

An Act Relating to: state finances and appropriations, constituting the executive budget act of the 2019 legislature. Status: S – Finance 2/28/2019 Sen. Read first time and referred to Joint Committee on Finance

From Page 12 of SB59:

Decriminalizing 25 grams or less of marijuana

Current law prohibits a person from possessing or attempting to possess; possessing with the intent to manufacture, distribute, or deliver; and manufacturing, distributing, or delivering marijuana. The penalties vary based on the amount of marijuana or plants involved or the number of previous controlled-substance convictions the person has. Current law also allows local governments to enact ordinances prohibiting the possession of marijuana.

This bill eliminates a) the penalty for possession of marijuana if the amount of marijuana involved is no more than 25 grams; b) the penalty for manufacturing or for possessing with the intent to manufacture, distribute, or deliver if the amount of marijuana involved is no more than 25 grams or the number of plants involved is no more than two; and c) the penalty for distributing or delivering marijuana if the amount of marijuana involved is no more than 25 grams or the number of plants involved is no more than two. The bill retains the current law penalty for distributing or delivering any amount of marijuana to a minor who is no more than 17 years of age by a person who is at least three years older than the minor. The bill limits local governments to enacting ordinances prohibiting only the possession of more than 25 grams of marijuana.

961.41 (1q) (b) The following are not sufficient to establish probable cause that a violation of sub. (1) (h) has occurred:
1. Odor of marijuana.
2. The possession of not more than 25 grams of marijuana.

The bill also prohibits establishing probable cause that a person is violating the prohibition against possessing more than 25 grams of marijuana by an odor of marijuana or by the possession of not more than 25 grams of marijuana. Current law requires that, when determining the weight of controlled substances, the weight includes the weight of the controlled substance together with any compound, mixture, or other substance mixed or combined with the controlled substance. Under the bill, when determining the amount of tetrahydrocannabinols, only the weight of the marijuana may be considered. Finally, the bill creates a process for expunging or dismissing convictions involving less than 25 grams of marijuana that occurred before this bill takes effect.

From Page 52 of SB59:

Medical marijuana

Current law prohibits a person from manufacturing, distributing, or delivering tetrahydrocannabinols; possessing THC with the intent to manufacture, distribute, or deliver it; possessing or attempting to possess THC; using drug paraphernalia; or possessing drug paraphernalia. This bill creates a medical use defense to such THC-related prosecutions and forfeiture actions for a person who is registered with DHS as having a specified debilitating medical condition or undergoing a specified debilitating treatment. The bill also prohibits the arrest or prosecution of such a person for those offenses. The defense and prohibition do not apply under certain circumstances, such as a) if the person does not have a valid registry identification card; b) if the amount of cannabis involved is more than 12 plants or three ounces of leaves or flowers; c) if, while under the influence of THC, the person drives a motor vehicle or engages in other conduct that endangers another person; or d) if the person smokes cannabis on a school bus or public transit or on school premises.

Under the bill, DHS must establish a medical cannabis registry, and a person may apply to DHS for a registry identification card. The bill specifies that the following medical conditions or treatments qualify a person for the registry: cancer, glaucoma, AIDS or HIV, Crohn’s disease, a hepatitis C virus infection, Alzheimer’s disease, amytrophic lateral sclerosis, nail-patella syndrome, Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, post-traumatic stress disorder, or the treatment of these conditions; opioid abatement or reduction or treatment for opioid addiction; a chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition or the treatment of such a disease or condition that causes cachexia, severe pain, severe nausea, seizures, or severe and persistent muscle spasms; and any other medical condition or treatment DHS designates as a debilitating medical condition or treatment. DHS must issue a qualified applicant a registry identification card unless, in the previous ten years, the applicant was serving a sentence or on probation for certain violent felony convictions. DHS must keep registry information and applications confidential except for verifying status for law enforcement purposes.

Under the bill, DATCP must license and regulate dispensaries to facilitate medical THC. The bill prohibits a dispensary from being located within 500 feet of a school, from distributing to one person more than 12 cannabis plants or three ounces of cannabis leaves or flowers, and from possessing an excessive quantity of cannabis. An applicant for a dispensary license must pay an initial application fee determined by DATCP, but a minimum of $250, and a dispensary must pay an annual fee determined by DHS, but a minimum of $5,000.

The bill requires DATCP to determine policies that allow entities to grow cannabis and distribute it to dispensaries. The bill also requires DATCP to register entities as THC-testing laboratories. The bill also imposes a surcharge on the sale of cannabis and tetrahydrocannabinols by a dispensary. The surcharge is equal to 10 percent of the sales price.

This bill affirmatively states that no employer is required to permit or accommodate the use, consumption, possession, transfer, display, transportation, sale, or cultivation of medical marijuana at a place of employment by an employee.

 

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