The Associated Press reports Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said Tuesday, the first day of the 2017-2018 legislative session, that he was open to the possibility of legalizing medical marijuana.
“For me – and I can only speak for myself, I cannot speak for anyone else in our caucus because we haven’t done that. But if you get a prescription to use an opiate or you get a prescription to use marijuana, to me – I think that’s the same thing. I don’t have a problem with that,” Vos said.
Vos said while open to medical cannabis, his priority is making CBD oil accessible to treat seizure disorders.
Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald opposes such a move, the AP says. Fitzgerald said there are enough votes in the Senate to pass the CBD oil bill, but balked at legalizing medical marijuana. “He said that?” said Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) after hearing about the comment from Rep. Vos. “No, I’m not that far. I have no idea where the caucus would be, but I’m certainly not there personally.”
Lawmakers passed a CBD law in 2014, 2013 Wisconsin Act 267, but it required a doctor’s prescription. The Assembly then passed CBD legislation that removed the prescription requirement in the 2015-2016 session, but Fitzgerald adjourned the final session of the Senate after Democrats made a motion to bring the CBD bill to the floor for a vote, killing the bill.
While Fitzgerald may finally be on board to pass the CBD bill, he is reportedly seeking an appointment in the Trump Administration, which would raise the possibility arch-cannabigot Sen. Leah Vukmir would seek the Majority Leader post. Vukmir was one of several anti-pot GOP Senators Fitzgerald cited as reason for blocking the vote on last session’s CBD bill.
Speaker Vos’ statement makes him the first Republican Wisconsin Assembly Speaker ever to offer support for medical cannabis. As a longtime advocate, I recall the over the top hostility of past GOP speakers especially John Gard, Scott Jensen and Ben Brancel. Jensen’s spokesman, Steve Baas, was perennially hostile and said of a 2001 bill, “This topic has been a perennial loser here in the Assembly that has done a lot to define Madison liberals but not much to impact the debate.” Hopefully Speaker Vos’ new openness to medical cannabis means that an issue that has enjoyed overwhelming public support for many years might gain some traction in the state legislature.