Transcript: Former Wisconsin legislative leaders discuss Evers’ planned medical marijuana budget proposal

Chuck Chvala, former Wisconsin Senate Democratic majority leader and former Republican Assembly Speaker Scott Jensen, discussed Gov. Tony Evers planned medical marijuana budget proposal on their weekly show, ‘The Insiders’ this week.

Both agreed that if the proposal were included in Gov. Evers upcoming state budget, it could pass. Chvala seems quite confident that medical cannabis not only would be in the budget and could pass and be signed into law, citing the revenue potential. Jensen agrees the leadership might go along with it as a revenue enhancer, but that as a policy item, many Republicans might oppose.

If Gov. Evers does put a medical cannabis proposal in the state budget and it passes, my research indicates Wisconsin would be the first state to enact a medical cannabis law via that route so far.

Below is the video along with a transcript I transcribed:

Show 51A Insiders Two-Minute Take (00-00-2019) from Tracy Will on Vimeo.

Scott Jensen: So Chuck, Gov. Evers has proposed putting medical marijuana in the budget, which he’s going to give us in March.

Chuck Chvala: Well and Robin Vos has said he’s open to medical marijuana in the budget. I think at the end of the day, given the need for revenue, I think we will see a medical marijuana proposal in the budget. And I think in the final budget that passes and is signed into law, I expect you’re going to see it happen. And I do believe it will have a component of revenue in it because that’s something both parties want and this is a sin tax and if there is a tax that is acceptable to Republicans it is a sin tax. So I expect you’ll see dispensaries, fairly liberally allowed, I expect, with a prescription, but then also with a tax component.

Scott Jensen: I think it wouldn’t be tough for the Republican leaders to sell to their members. While some will want to see additional revenues, others are wondering why we keep floating additional revenues in the budget and making more and more promises into the future for spending. On the policy side I think there are some Republicans who are going to be really concerned about making this as easy as you just said where the dispensaries are all over the place. The argument used to be marijuana was like alcohol, now we are saying marijuana is like medicine. Well medicine is something you have the doctor prescribe and you go to Walgreen’s to pick up. You don’t go to some new guy’s shop that just opened up in an abandoned mall who’s selling medical marijuana which is what happened in Colorado and California and other states. I can’t believe the Republicans would be so desperate for additional revenue that they would agree for something that wide open. I think it’s unlikely Do you think it’s going to happen?

Chuck Chvala: I do and what’s interesting is Scott and I both come from a time when legislators did not support this kind of thing, but the world has changed 30-some states now have at least have medicinal marijuana out there. It is coming. Every state around us, Michigan, Illinois and Minnesota, other than Iowa, and Canada will have full recreational. I think with that happening around us I think medical is [unintelligible]. It’s a sin tax. I think Republicans at the end of the day will be able to buy it.

Scott Jensen: We’ll see.


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5 thoughts on “Transcript: Former Wisconsin legislative leaders discuss Evers’ planned medical marijuana budget proposal”

    1. So far, all we have is the proposal. It still has to pass the legislature and the GOP leadership which controls both houses is not warm to it. Robin Vos has been talking about a very limited program compared to what Chvala was touting. We will likely see medical bills outside the budget too, but I expect they will be very restrictive.

  1. I saw a rumor on the Wisconsin subreddit that State Senator Patrick Testin is preparing a medical marijuana bill for submission to the state senate. There’s nothing about it on Testin’s Twitter account, so I don’t know what to make of it.

    I did take the opportunity just the same to contact my Republican state rep about the issue. I got back a noncommittal response thanking me for my input within minutes, which tells me their office is getting a lot of correspondence about this, so they have a standard response ready to send out. The wording of the response suggested to me that my state rep is kind of “on the fence” about it, which is better than the emphatic “no” I’m sure I would have received in response five years ago.

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