This article is the 73rd post so far here at Cannabadger.com, covering the intersection of Wisconsin and Cannabis. Our first post was published March 20, 2015. Cannabadger uses Google Analytics to compile statistics for the site and these are, in reverse order, Cannabadger’s top ten most-read articles from 2015.
For this article, Cannabadger reviewed fiscal estimates filed for AB246/SB167, the cannabis decriminalization measure sponsored by Rep. Mandela Barnes (D-Milwaukee). Three agencies filed fiscal estimates on the proposal, District Attorneys (DA), State Public Defender (SPD) and the Dept. of Corrections (DOC).
While each agency rates the fiscal impact as “Indeterminate,” their analyses do indicate the potential of significant savings. For example, the DOC found AB246/SB167 “would result in a decrease in DOCs population based on the elimination of crimes…DOC estimates that the bill could result in an estimated cost savings of $3,728,200 per fiscal year.”
Despite its merits, AB246/SB167 remains stuck in committee in both the Assembly and Senate, with no hearing scheduled as of this writing.
In our first post, Cannabadger picked up the story of the long-running sometimes fiery Milwaukee Common Council debate over reducing city pot fines to $0-50 for possession of 25 grams or less and followed it through to passage on June 2 with a 10-3 vote.
On June 13, Cannabadger broke the news that Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett had quietly signed the ordinance amendment just before the June 11 deadline, green-lighting lower pot fines in Milwaukee.
Cannabadger was in the Assembly Parlor for the April 13 press conference when Rep. Melissa Sargent introduced her hybrid adult use/medical cannabis bill AB224 that would tax and regulate adult use of cannabis and create a medical cannabis patient registry for Wisconsin.
Historically, most if not all recent Wisconsin cannabis law reform legislation has been introduced later in the session, after the state budget has been dealt with. It was hoped the early introduction this session would provide additional time for lawmakers to debate the bill, but with AB224 buried in Rep. Joel Kleefisch’s committee with no hearing scheduled, the extra time seems likely to result in the same outcome as prior sessions.
Signs that cannabis legalization is getting some legs in Congress came June 3 with a record six Wisconsin congressional representatives voting in favor as the U.S. House passed the Rohrabacher-Farr Medical Marijuana Amendment, which prevents the Justice Department from interfering with states that have legalized medical marijuana on a 242-186 vote. Last year the amendment passed by a 219-189 vote.
Voting in favor were Reps. Glenn Grothman (R-6), Reid Ribble (R-8), Jim Sensenbrenner (R-5), Ron Kind (D-3), Gwen Moore (D-4) and Mark Pocan (D-2). The votes by Sensenbrenner and Grothman were possibly their first-ever votes in favor of medical cannabis, including Grothman’s time in the Wisconsin legislature before his election to Congress in Nov. 2014. Wisconsin opponents were now down to just two, Paul Ryan (R-1), now the speaker, and Sean Duffy (R-7).
The amendment was included in the Omnibus Funding bill that passed the U.S. Senate on Dec. 12, 2015. If signed into law, it will bring the federal government one step closer to ending raids on medical marijuana dispensaries, and halting arrests of people involved with canna-businesses in compliance with state laws.
With the new legislative session commencing in January 2015, a number of bills addressing cannabis were introduced. The offices of lead sponsors of AB224, a hybrid cannabis legalization/medical bill from Rep. Melissa Sargent (D-Madison) and AB246, a broad cannabis decriminalization bill from Rep. Mandela Barnes (D-Milwaukee) reported that both bill received a lot of interest and support, mostly on the Democratic side of the aisle.
Ultimately, while both bills saw a number of Democratic cosponsors from both the Senate and Assembly, majority Republicans continued their usual one-two punch of not cosponsoring combined with bottling the bills up in committee, refusing a public hearing or a vote in committee, and ensuring there will be no debate or discussion of legalization or even decriminalization.
The Menominee, the only non-Public Law 280 tribe in Wisconsin, and thus not subject to state law, proceeded with plans to cultivate hemp on tribal lands. Instead, the hemp crop was seized and destroyed by federal agents in a dispute which resulted in the tribe filing a federal lawsuit against the DEA and other agencies.
Meanwhile, as to the status of hemp legislation in the legislature, AB215, introduced by Rep. Dave Considine (D-Baraboo), also remains buried in committee, even with a Republican cosponsor. Considine recently sent a second letter to the chair of the Assembly’s Committee on State Affairs and Government Operations, Rep. Rob Swearingen (R-Rhinelander) requesting a public hearing on the bill.
When Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker formally announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination for U.S. president in July, Cannabadger published a timeline of Walker’s past statements regarding cannabis, updated with each new pronouncement on the issue. As it turned there was only one update, as Walker’s campaign quickly folded, ending in just 71 days and leaving Wisconsin taxpayers holding the bag for $67,000 in unpaid security costs
Cannabadger has looked at the numbers of out of state patients registered with the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program (OMMP), which, through litigation in 2010, has been open to patients nationwide. Wisconsin patients have ranked in the higher end of program statistics.
In addition to the protections offered in-state to Wisconsin patients holding out of state authorizations such as the Oregon card or a California recommendation, a number of state medical cannabis programs accept out of state medical cannabis cards including Oregon cards.
Unfortunately, under a new rule set by the OMMP, the program will no longer issue cards to out-of-state patients beginning January 1, 2016. Hopefully efforts to reverse the new rule will prevail, but as of this writing this option is slated to end.
Some of the more interesting Wisconsin cannabis news in 2015 has come from the reservation level, with a number of state tribes looking at producing and selling cannabis on tribal lands under the guidelines of the USDOJ’s Cole memo, issued in late 2014.
This article was Cannabadger’s first “scoop” published April 17.” It was a follow-up on Cannabadger’s first post, published March 20, 2015, “Dane County Wisconsin looking at $10 fines for pot possession.” We followed this story to the end, including a drafting error that delayed its effective date.
While Dane County did reduce pot fines for first-time offenders to $1 plus costs, the Board failed to agree on further modifications which would have included second and subsequent offenses. Hopefully the Board will revisit this issue in 2016.
If they do, it’s likely you’ll be reading about it here on Cannabadger!
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