The most recent Marquette Law School poll from Aug. 2018 found that 61% of Wisconsinites want to see cannabis regulated like alcohol. Both Dane and Rock county’s Nov. 6 cannabis advisory referendums asked voters if cannabis should be regulated like alcohol. Combined more than a quarter of million voters (268,257) in Dane and Rock counties agreed, with 69% in favor in Rock County and 76% in Dane.
So far, in the states where cannabis has been legalized for adult use, it is not exactly regulated like alcohol. In Wisconsin, excise taxes on alcohol totaled about $61.13 million in 2017, a far cry from the hundreds of millions being extracted annually from cannabis consumers in many of the legal states for choosing a safer substance.
Another thing in very short supply in legal states are lounges where cannabis consumers can go to purchase and consume cannabis in various forms. If the goal is regulating like alcohol,” there should be a wide array of places to legally consume cannabis, like our neighborhood bars and brewpubs.
Making your own beer and wine is something many people enjoy. If cannabis is regulated like alcohol, it should be legal to grow at least the equivalent of the 200 gallons per household of beer or wine that is legally allowed per year.
Truly regulating like alcohol also means cannabis product consumption would be allowed at sporting events, in airports and on airplanes, at concerts, outdoor festivals and fairs, restaurants, and other places where alcohol is served.
With cannabis now legal in Canada, Ontario residents will be able to smoke cannabis wherever tobacco smoking is permitted. Parks Canada says it is now legal to consume cannabis in campsites.
The only limits to the amount of alcohol one can purchase and possess are the size of one’s wallet and the space to store it. It is perfectly legal to have a million bottle wine cellar or a home bar with a hundred beers on tap and 1000 different kinds of tequila, scotch, brandy, whiskey, etc. But in every one of the ten legal states and Washington D.C., there are limits on the amount of cannabis one can possess, backed up by harsh penalties for those found over the limit.
Due to obstructionist Republicans in the legislature, who are currently holding a special “lame duck” power grab session to pass legislation restricting the powers of incoming Democratic Gov. Tony Evers and Attorney General Josh Kaul, it’s very unlikely any bill legalizing adult use of cannabis in Wisconsin will gain any traction when the new session begins January 7, 2019. This comes despite the overwhelming public support confirmed by polling and advisory referendums. But when state lawmakers finally come around to the will of the people they claim to represent, regulations need to reflect what voters want, not what special interests demand.