Reducing and Removing Penalties in Milwaukee County

Changes for Milwaukee County

On Friday, Supervisor Sylvia Ortiz-Velez introduced a resolution to the county board that will lower fines for possession of marijuana and marijuana paraphernalia to just $1 in Milwaukee County, down from the current fines of $250-$500.

Please find out who your County Supervisor is and call or email them, telling them you want them to vote in favor of this resolution.

Changes for Cities and Villages

Due to the nuances of law, the change in county ordinance will actually only lower the fines issued by Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Deputies. Most arrests in Milwaukee County are issued by local police.

In addition, due to another nuance of law, municipalities (cities and villages) are able to go further in reducing penalties than the county is. Specifically, while the county can only lower fines to $1, municipalities can remove all penalties!

This is de facto legalization!

Madison actually just did this in November. Their new ordinance explicitly says “A person who is eighteen (18) years of age or older may possess cannabis or cannabis derivatives in an amount not to exceed twenty-eight (28) grams on public property with the permission of the property owner, landlord or tenant or on private property.

Madison Ordinance Changes

The Madison ordinances were changed in three parts:

Sign Our Petition and Attend Our Meeting

To support our efforts to remove all penalties in Milwaukee County’s 19 municipalities, please look up who your local representative is on your municipality’s website and/or sign our petition below. We will be turning in petition signatures to the municipalities on a regular basis.

Some of these municipalities will be more resistant to change than others. We encourage you to not only sign our petition, but to also get more directly involved. We have our monthly meeting tonight (2/9/21) at 7pm. If you are unable to attend our meeting, please feel free to contact us at to get plugged in.

RSVP for February meeting 2/9 @ 7pm
RSVP for March meeting 3/10 @ 7pm

We are more than happy to assist you in talking with your representatives and working with you to reduce or remove penalties in your community. Local officials prefer to hear from members of their community, so your assistance makes our advocacy much more powerful.

Below is the text of our petition and a form to sign. The phone number is optional, but encouraged if you would like us to keep you updated on how you can best help this initiative.

To: Municipal Leaders in Milwaukee County

In 2018, the people of Milwaukee County clearly stated their support for an end to marijuana prohibition: 70% of residents voted in support of legalizing marijuana for recreational use. In fact, a majority of the residents of every Milwaukee County municipality supported marijuana legalization:

Franklin – 52.46% 
Greendale – 55.27% 
Hales Corners – 57.98% 
Greenfield – 58.43% 
Oak Creek – 58.73% 
River Hills – 61.08% 
Brown Deer – 63.49% 
South Milwaukee – 64.51% 
Wauwatosa – 65.95% 
Fox Point – 66.07% 
Cudahy – 66.50% 
West Allis – 66.96% 
Whitefish Bay – 66.99% 
St. Francis – 67.83% 
Glendale – 68.14% 
Bayside – 69.32% 
West Milwaukee – 74.17% 
Milwaukee – 75.13% 
Shorewood – 79.18%

While outright legalization of marijuana can only be done at the state level, municipalities can – and should – do the next best thing: remove all penalties for possession of marijuana and marijuana paraphernalia, as Madison did in November 2020.

Removing penalties for marijuana possession is not only good politics, it is good policy.

As our county struggles with the opiate crisis, recent research has suggested that legalizing marijuana leads to significant reductions in opiate abuse. See a 2020 study that analyzes the decline in opiate use in Colorado after marijuana legalization:

This policy change would also dramatically reduce racial disparities in policing. In 2020 the ACLU put out a report that showed that in Wisconsin, Black people are 4.2 times more likely to get arrested for marijuana than white people, despite both groups using marijuana at similar rates:

Removing penalties for marijuana possession is an easy way to improve racial justice in your community and allow for the use of a much safer alternative to the addicting and deadly opiate medications.

I hope you will look at the facts as well as the popular support that marijuana legalization has when deciding whether you want to allow the harms of marijuana prohibition to continue. I hope that in light of all of this, you will choose to be on the right side of history by making 2021 the year you remove all penalties for marijuana possession.

Thank You Wisconsin Cannabis Expo!

Thanks to The Shepherd Express for hosting an awesome event for cannabis. This event was a success. There were over 100 cannabis related businesses in this showcase. The expo featured 2 stages to give the many speakers a forum to educate the public about cannabis.

We were there too. Over 600 petitions were signed for AB 220. AB 220 would legalize marijuana for adult use in Wisconsin. We really appreciate the support!

TMJ4 was there and featured the expo. Check that video out here.

Here is the Shepherd Express with their recap of the expo.

Thanks to all of the support we received from Northern Wisconsin NORML. Thanks to Kris Teegardin, Executive Director for Northern Wisconsin NORML,  for speaking on a panel for marijuana legalization.

This was the first of hopefully many Wisconsin Cannabis Expos. See you there next year.

Smoke The Vote: Governor Evers, Grade B

By Rachael Steidl, Deputy Director Southeastern WI NORML, 2/02/20

As you may remember Governor Tony Evers was for medical marijuana and decriminalization in his 2018 election campaign. He included it in his biennial budget. Somewhere after that things got stuck. The Joint Finance Committee (JFC) held public hearings to help shape the budget. After the hearings the JFC decided to remove medical marijuana from the budget.

Evers himself is a cancer survivor and sees value in marijuana’s medicinal uses. He agrees with patients having marijuana as a treatment option. We cannot fully understand marijuana’s medicinal potential until it becomes legalized.

Governor Evers recently spoke on this topic in his State of The State Address. He reminds legislators they should represent the people. Currently medical marijuana has about 80% public support. In his address he encouraged bipartisan support for these and other bills.

In 2018, 16 of Wisconsin’s 72 counties had an advisory referendum about marijuana on their November ballots. Some of the questions were different in each county. None of these counties voted for marijuana with less than 50%.

Wisconsin has many bills in the current session. Adult use, medical marijuana, decriminalization, gun rights of medical marijuana patients and drug testing workers for THC are in the legislature.

Thank you, Governor Evers, for supporting medical marijuana.

Check out Ever’s NORML Smoke The Vote Scorecard.

Wisconsin Cannabis Expo Coming February 8th!

Milwaukee is about to get greener this winter with the debut of the WI Cannabis Expo presented by the Shepherd Express on Feb. 8, 2020 at the Wisconsin Center. Featuring exhibitors, speakers and an estimated 2,000+ attendees, this event is an opportunity to learn more about the innovative and exciting cannabis, CBD and hemp industry.

This business-to-business and business-to-consumer, one-day expo will feature over 100 exhibitors covering all angles of the industry including growers, processors, dispensaries, operators, testers and investors. During the event, guests will have the chance to sample and purchase product, attend presentations from leading experts in the cannabis, CBD and hemp industry, chat with thousands of cannabis enthusiasts and network.

All products sampled and sold at the expo are legal in the state of Wisconsin. Speaker and panel discussions will include topics regarding legalization and the future of cannabis in Wisconsin.

Tickets for the WI Cannabis Expo are on sale now. The Shepherd Express is currently accepting vendor and sponsor applications. Email our event coordinator at if you are interested.

Further updates will be provided via the ‘WI Cannabis Expo’ Facebook event page and in the Updates section here.

Medical Cannabis Action Alert: Contact Your Reps

A medical cannabis bill SB 507 has been introduced in Wisconsin! This bill covers a very wide array of conditions, allows patients to grow their own cannabis, and creates a robust market that will ensure patients will have easy access to affordable high-quality cannabis.

This bill is very similar to the medical cannabis bills that have been introduced in past years, but with one major difference: bipartisan support! This bill was co-authored by a Republican – Patrick Testin – which makes this the first time a Republican has supported a medical cannabis bill in Wisconsin. Since Senator Testin chairs the Senate Health Committee (where the bill will almost certainly be assigned), this gives us a huge opportunity to get the bill past the first step of the legislative process.

Although medical cannabis now has bipartisan legislative support and overwhelming support among the Wisconsin public, there is still significant opposition. This bill wont pass itself without Wisconsinites standing up and demanding action.

There are two actions you can take right now to help bring medical cannabis to Wisconsin:

  1. ​We have a pre-written letter that you can send to your state reps asking them to support the bill. You can send it from:​
  2. Senate Majority Leader, Scott Fitzgerald, has said that he will block the bill because he “can’t see the support”. His office number is 608-266-5660. Give him a call. Tell him that only a heartless person wants to deny patients their medicine and that he should stand with Senator Testin and the 83% of Wisconsinites that support medical cannabis in Wisconsin.​

83% of Wisconsinites ​support medical cannabis. We have the numbers. Help us turn those numbers into action by sharing this email with your friends. By uniting and speaking out, we can finally bring medical cannabis to Wisconsin.

Help us this July 4th

The 4th of July is coming up, and that means parades, cookouts, fireworks, and other community events. These are perfect places to collect petition signatures for cannabis legalization.

These petitions are very valuable to us for two reasons:

  1. When we talk to legislators at the capitol, we bring these forms with to show the support cannabis legalization has in their district
  2. These forms are how people sign up for our contact list, allowing us to keep them up-to-date with news, elections, important events, and other ways they can get involved

At the bottom of the page are two PDFs. One is the petition form and the other is a sign you can print and tape onto the back of the clipboard.

A couple things to note about collecting signatures:

  • We need a full address to determine which legislator represents a person’s area. Without this, the signature doesn’t do us any good
    • The form is still useful to us if they give us their phone number or email; we just wont have anyone at the capitol to turn it in to
  • Promote a positive image of cannabis consumers and activists by being clean, sober, and respectful while petitioning
  • Anyone signing must live in Wisconsin
  • Regarding teenagers signing: This petition is advisory in nature only, so there’s no harm in a teenager signing it. All 17-year-olds and many 16-year-olds will be old enough to vote by November 2020, so there is value in adding them to our contact list if they’re interested.

Once you have collected some petition signatures, you can email or text Eric Marsch at 262-443-0089 (Please text, not call) to arrange for someone to pickup the forms from you or to get an address to mail them to (Will be moving soon, so address is in flux).

Of course there’s no reason to limit your petitioning to only 4th of July events. We encourage you to petition at other summer events in your area, such as street festivals, farmers markets, concerts at parks, etc. Some of these events may not allow political work on their grounds, but there’s nothing prohibiting you from standing on the sidewalk leading to these events and catching people as they come and go.

Only by having a network of volunteers all across Wisconsin can we achieve cannabis legalization in the next couple of years. Over the next few months, we will be developing activist groups across the state through the newly formed state chapter, NORML Wisconsin. Join us in our fight to end the injustices of prohibition and make legal cannabis a reality in Wisconsin!

If you have any questions, contact Eric Marsch at or 262-443-0089 (Texting much preferred).

Print these PDFs:

Full Legal Signature Form

Cannabis Petition Sign – 8.5 x 11

Let’s get cannabis legalization in the governor’s budget proposal

It’s almost time for Governor Evers to submit his first budget proposal to the Wisconsin legislature. In addition to all of the social justice and public health benefits of cannabis legalization, analysis has shown that legalization will bring in over $130 million each year in revenue, making it extremely relevant to the budget.

By putting cannabis legalization in the budget, it forces the Republicans in the legislature to address our issue and ensures that legalization is on the table during budget negotiations.

Use the form below to send a pre-written letter for Governor Evers. Feel free to edit it to add your personal reasons for supporting cannabis legalization.

Cannabis wins in 2018!

Cannabis was the big winner in yesterday’s election in Wisconsin!

Cannabis referendums passed overwhelmingly in all 16 counties and 2 cities, with up to 88% support for medical and 76% support for recreational! While these referendums were only advisory, they show cannabis law reform to be more popular than many of the lawmakers who won in these areas. This should send a strong message to the incoming Wisconsin legislature that cannabis law reform – including medical cannabis, cannabis decriminalization, and cannabis legalization – must be a priority in 2019.

Another huge victory was kicking out staunch prohibitionist governor Scott Walker and prohibitionist attorney general Brad Schimel and electing Tony Evers and Josh Kaul to replace them; both of whom are very supportive of medical cannabis and open minded on recreational cannabis. The close margin in those statewide races means they both owe their jobs to the hundreds of thousands of cannabis voters who came out to support the referendums.

The particularly wide-margin defeat of Leah Vukmir – who is well-known for claiming cannabis to be more addictive than meth during a televised debate this fall, and also for blocking all medical cannabis legislation in the Wisconsin Senate’s Health and Human Services committee that she chaired – also shows that Wisconsin rejects Reefer Madness-style fearmongering on cannabis and understands its safety and efficacy.

Now the big work begins of getting a bill passed. NORML will be scheduling meetings with Governor-elect Evers and legislative leadership to ensure the clearly-demonstrated will of the people is quickly enacted. This fight is not over. We’ll need your help to put pressure on our elected officials to change the laws. Follow SE WI NORML on Facebook and signup for our email list to the right to stay up-to-date.

The results of the referendums are listed below.

Brown County:

“Should cannabis be legalized in Wisconsin for medicinal purposes, and regulated in the same manner as other prescription drugs?”

  • 76% YES
  • 24% NO

Clark County:

“Should the State of Wisconsin legalize the use of marijuana for medical purposes and regulate its use in the same manner as other prescription drugs?”

  • 67% YES
  • 33% NO

Dane County:

“Should marijuana be legalized, taxed and regulated in the same manner as alcohol for adults 21 years of age or older?”

  • 76% YES
  • 24% NO

Eau Claire County:

“Should cannabis:”

  • 54% – Be legal for adult, 21years of age and older, recreational or medical use, taxed and regulated like alcohol, with the proceeds from the taxes used for education, healthcare, and infrastructure in Wisconsin?
  • 31% – Be legal for medical purposes only and available only by prescription through a medical dispensary?
  • 15% – Remain a criminally illegal drug as provided under current law?

Forest County:

“Should the State of Wisconsin allow individuals with debilitating medical conditions to use and safely access marijuana for medical purposes, if those individuals have a written recommendation from a licensed Wisconsin physician?”

  • 79% YES
  • 21% NO

Kenosha County:

“Should the State of Wisconsin allow individuals with debilitating medical conditions to use and safely access marijuana for medical purposes, if those individuals have a written recommendation from a licensed Wisconsin physician?”

  • 88% YES
  • 12% NO

La Crosse County:

“Should the State of Wisconsin legalize the use of marijuana by adults 21 years or older, to be taxed and regulated in the same manner that alcohol is regulated in the State of Wisconsin, with proceeds from taxes used for education, healthcare, and infrastructure?”

  • 63% YES
  • 37% NO

Langlade County:

“Should the State of Wisconsin allow individuals with debilitating medical conditions to use and safely access marijuana for medical purposes, if those individuals have a written recommendation from a licensed Wisconsin physician?”

  • 77% YES
  • 23% NO

Lincoln County:

“Should the State of Wisconsin allow individuals with debilitating medical conditions to use and safely access marijuana for medical purposes, if those individuals have a written recommendation from a licensed Wisconsin physician?”

  • 81% YES
  • 19% NO

Marathon County:

“Should the State of Wisconsin allow individuals with debilitating medical conditions to use and safely access marijuana for medical purposes, if those individuals have a written recommendation from a licensed Wisconsin physician?”

  • 82% YES
  • 18% NO

Marquette County:

“Shall the County of Marquette, Wisconsin, adopt the following resolution? Resolved, that “We the People” of Marquette County, Wisconsin, support the right of its citizens to acquire, possess and use medical cannabis upon the recommendation of a licensed physician, and; Be It Further Resolved, that we strongly support a statewide referendum requesting Wisconsin to join with thirty-two (32) other states that have already approved the use of medical cannabis for the treatment of chronic pain, several debilitating diseases and disabling symptoms.”

  • 78% YES
  • 22% NO

Milwaukee County:

“Do you favor allowing adults 21 years of age and older to engage in the personal use of marijuana, while also regulating commercial marijuana-related activities, and imposing a tax on the sale of marijuana?”

  • 70% YES
  • 30% NO

Portage County:

“Should the State of Wisconsin allow individuals with debilitating medical conditions to use and safely access marijuana for medical [treatment] purposes, if those individuals have a written [treatment] recommendation from a licensed Wisconsin physician?”

  • 83% YES
  • 17% NO

Racine County:

“Should marijuana be legalized for medicinal use?”

  • 85% YES
  • 15% NO

“Should marijuana be legalized, taxed, and regulated in the same manner as alcohol for adults 21 years of age or older?”

  • 59% YES
  • 41% NO

“Should proceeds from marijuana taxes be used to fund education, health care, and infrastructure?”

  • 81% YES
  • 19% NO

Rock County:

“Should cannabis be legalized for adult use, taxed and regulated like alcohol, with the proceeds from the Taxes used for education, healthcare, and infrastructure?”

  • 69% YES
  • 31% NO

Sauk County:

“Should the state of Wisconsin legalize medical marijuana so that people with debilitating medical conditions may access medical marijuana if they have a prescription from a licenses Wisconsin physician?”

  • 80% YES
  • 20% NO

City of Racine:

“Should cannabis be legalized for adult recreational use in Wisconsin?”

  • 66% YES
  • 34% NO

“Should cannabis be legalized for medical use in Wisconsin?”

  • 88% YES
  • 12% NO

“Should cannabis sales be taxed and the revenue from such taxes be used for public education, health care, and infrastructure in Wisconsin?”

  • 83% YES
  • 17% NO

“Should cannabis be decriminalized in the State of Wisconsin?”

  • 72% YES
  • 28% NO

City of Waukesha:

“Should cannabis be legalized in Wisconsin for medicinal purposes, and regulated in the same manner as other prescription drugs?”

  • 77% YES
  • 23% NO

Grow the Vote

Help us Grow the Vote for cannabis legalization! There are many ways you can promote the pro-cannabis candidates and referendums.


Make sure to vote on November 6th!
Find your polling place at and make sure to bring a photo ID.

If you haven’t registered to vote yet, you can register at your polling place on election day. In addition to your photo ID, bring proof of residence (utility bill, pay stub, lease, any government document) with your name and address on it if you need to register.


We’ll ship flyers to you at no cost if you can distribute them to friendly businesses, at concerts, on college campuses, or anywhere else cannabis-supporters can be reached.

If you would like a stack of flyers, email and include:

  • The address to ship the flyers to
  • How many fliers you would like us to send

You can also download a PDF version of the flyers that fit 4 to a 8.5×11″ sheet here if you want to print your own.


We’re looking for people in counties with cannabis referendums to hold banners promoting “YES” votes on the referendums. We have 9 total sets of the “VOTE YES NOV 6” banners.

See list of counties with referendums

We’d like to see them held over busy freeway overpasses. You can either hold them yourself, or you can rig up some kind of stand for them. We used microphone stands with clamps when we’ve done this.

If you would like a set of banners, email with your address and where you plan on holding them. Due to the limited number, we may not be able to send banners to everyone who requests them.

Help Pro-Cannabis Candidates Get Elected

The referendums around Wisconsin are only advisory. The only way the laws can be changed is by electing representatives who support cannabis legalization. Go to our Legislative Candidate Positions page to find supportive candidates in your area, click on their name to find their campaign website, then contact them to find out how you can help.

Flip the Governorship and Senate

Cannabis legalization has gone nowhere with Wisconsin entirely under Republican control. Scott Walker has adamently opposed legalization and no Republican has signed on to either the medical or recreational legalization bills. If we want legalization, we need to elect Tony Evers and flip the Senate to Democratic control – that’s the reality.

These 5 state senate races are considered key to flipping the state senate. All of them have Democratic candidates that are strongly supportive of cannabis legalization running against prohibitionist Republicans. If you are near one of these districts, please prioritize volunteering for them:

Yard Signs

We have some yard signs available for people in Racine County, Kenosha County, and City of Waukesha. If you would like a yard sign, contact the point person for your area (Texting preferred method of contact):

  • Racine County
    • Joel Jacobson – 262-716-4518
  • Kenosha County
    • Andy Berg – 262-705-9808
  • City of Waukesha
    • Eric Marsch – 262-443-0089

Texting Likely Supporters

We will be working with Our Wisconsin Revolution to text likely cannabis supporters to inform them about the referendums. Check back on Monday 10/29 to get involved with this.

Cannabis Saves Lives – An Art Piece Proposal

Someone had a great idea for an artistic visual aide to the number of lives cannabis can save in Wisconsin by reducing opiate deaths by 25%, which would save 216 lives in Wisconsin based on the 2016 opiate death toll of 865. The idea is to use 865 prescription bill bottles to create a sculpture in the shape of a human body, with 216 of them colored green to represent the lives that would be saved by medical cannabis laws. Once completed, this piece will be a powerful visual to draw media attention to the importance of reforming cannabis laws.

The first step to making this is collecting 865 prescription pill bottles. The exact size of the bottle doesn’t matter, but we want them to be real prescription bottles. Make sure to take the labels off first, to protect your privacy, and of course, the bottles should be empty.

SE WI NORML will be at Knucks Fest at the Miramar Theater on Friday 9/14, then at Bay View Bash on Saturday 9/15. We’ll also be at Harvest Fest in Madison 10/6 and 10/7. Stop by our table to drop off prescription bottles. Otherwise contact me at to arrange a way to get them to us. We’ll be reaching out to local businesses for collection as well.

This will probably not be done in time for the election, so we’ll plan to have it ready for the new legislative session in January, when we’ll have to pressure the newly-elected representatives to make cannabis law reform a priority.