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1. Do you support a legal, regulated, and taxed market for recreational cannabis, allowing Wisconsin residents over the age of 21 to purchase and possess up to two ounces (or more) of cannabis from regulated dispensaries, as proposed by State Rep. Melissa Sargent’s (D-Madison) AB482?
For too long, Wisconsin has put millions of people in prison for nonviolent marijuana possession. Not only is our prison system buckling under the rate of incarceration, people’s lives are ruined. That is why I support Rep. Sargent’s AB482 which would allow for the legalization of cannabis. We have seen in other states like Washington and Colorado that legalizing recreational marijuana has not lead to an increase in crime or disorder. It is time to change the narrative when it comes to cannabis in Wisconsin.
Furthermore, we can use revenues from legalization to pay for state services or even return taxpayer money to Wisconsin residents. Through legalizing cannabis, we can increase state services through a new tax on cannabis, while also reducing the amount of people in our prison system for crimes related to the sale or possession of cannabis. Like other states, we can also utilize the revenue generated from marijuana tax revenue to help combat the growing opioid crisis.
2. Do you support allowing any Wisconsin resident over the age of 21 to grow up to 6 (or more) cannabis plants at home without a license, as proposed by AB482?
While I support legalization of cannabis, I think it needs to be regulated in the same way that we regulate alcohol. Wisconsin does allow individuals to brew beer in their home, and as Governor I would support the right of a homeowner to grow plants in his or her home. That is why I would prefer to limit the amount of plants in a home without a license to 6 plants.
3. Do you support allowing patients suffering from various ailments to purchase and use cannabis as treatment for their ailments if they have a doctor’s recommendation?
As the stigma around marijuana has gone down in recent years, we’ve learned more about the health and treatment benefits it provides to people suffering from a wide range of ailments. Whether it’s Wisconsinites returning from serving our country who suffer from a traumatic situation, a child with severe epilepsy and few effective treatment options, or someone addicted to opioids, Wisconsin should lead on providing safe and legal opportunities for patients to get the help they need. I fully support allowing doctors to provide their patients with cannabis as an option.
4. Do you agree with the qualifying conditions for medical cannabis outlined in Section 42 of AB482 (listed below)?
(2) “Debilitating medical condition or treatment" means any of the following: (a) Cancer; glaucoma; acquired immunodeficiency syndrome; a positive test for the presence of HIV, antigen or nonantigenic products of HIV, or an antibody to HIV; Crohn's disease; a hepatitis C virus infection; Alzheimer's disease; amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; nail patella syndrome; Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome; post-traumatic stress disorder; or the treatment of these conditions. (b) A chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition or the treatment of such a disease or condition that causes cachexia, severe pain, severe nausea, seizures, including those characteristic of epilepsy, or severe and persistent muscle spasms, including those characteristic of multiple sclerosis. (c) Any other medical condition or any other treatment for a medical condition designated as a debilitating medical condition or treatment in rules promulgated by the department of health services under s. 50.81 (2).
I agree with the stipulation listed in section 42 of AB482. Too many people are suffering in our state with limited treatment options. We need to change how we treat those with chronic pain or other issues by allowing for the use of cannabis for medical purposes. We can also decrease the amount of painkillers entering our communities, which we know could lead to further opioid abuse.
5. Answer this question only if you support both recreational and medicinal uses of cannabis. Do you support allowing medical cannabis patients to possess more cannabis than recreational users and to be exempt from the taxes that are imposed on recreational users?
As someone who supports both recreational and medicinal use of cannabis, I do support allowing for those using medical cannabis to have more than those who are using it recreationally. I currently support a uniform tax system when it comes to cannabis, whether it’s for recreational or medicinal use, though I would be open to considering a lower tax rate for medicinal users if there are safeguard mechanisms to prevent phony claims of medical problems to avoid paying recreational tax rates.
6. Do you support a permitting system that would enable publicly-accessible establishments to allow legal possessors of cannabis to smoke it in outdoor areas at their establishments? This would address an issue present in other states’ implementations, where many people are legally allowed to purchase and possess cannabis, but have no place to legally consume it.
With the appropriate regulations in place, I support a permitting system like the one described above but would advocate for strong enforcement mechanisms to prevent minors from being able to access cannabis. Using an example familiar to many Wisconsinites: beer, we have a system where you can brew beer, purchase beer, and consume beer, sometimes all in the same place. The same should be applied to cannabis. The state of Nevada is a potential example, where purchase and possession are one thing, but consumption is highly regulated.
7. Do you support conviction expungement or pardons for anyone convicted of possession, growing, and/or selling cannabis in Wisconsin?
Yes, this is a major part of criminal justice reform in Wisconsin. There cannot be true social justice and reform without the expungement of current records and the release of those who are currently imprisoned who were convicted of nonviolent crimes related to the possession, cultivation, or selling of cannabis, so long as the crimes were solely related to cannabis and not other violations of the law (such as if a person was convicted of possession, but during the same crime also convicted of burglary or assault).
8. Do you support or would you consider any other cannabis regulatory or legalization scheme for Wisconsin
Yes. If we’re going to legalize cannabis, this should apply not only to smoking but also edibles and topicals. For those who choose to purchase but don’t want to smoke, this should be an option available for production, purchase, and consumption whether for medicinal or recreational purposes.
9. Do you believe that possession of limited amounts of cannabis by a person in his or her own home or in another’s home with the owner’s permission should be legal in the State of Wisconsin?
Yes. New laws surrounding possession will extend to possession in private residences and rented properties, and with the permission of those who grant permission otherwise. As governor, I do not want to see local or state law enforcement resources being spent on investigating or arresting those with possession of limited amounts. We need to re-allocate these resources to increase public safety and investigate and prosecute major crimes that are a threat to other people and our communities.
10. What level of taxes do you think should be imposed on recreational cannabis?
We would follow the model of several other states by levying the state’s 5% state sales tax, plus any local sales taxes, and an additional 12% state marijuana tax. A state such as Colorado which is nearly comparable in population has reached sales exceeding $1 billion per year while generating revenues well in excess of $200 million. While Governor Walker slashed funding from our UW System, fails to complete our infrastructure investments, and continues to starve our public schools, we could easily begin rectify our funding needs with this additional revenue. This simple solution could not only generate revenue, but also serve as a cost-savings mechanism by vastly reducing the amount of tax dollars we spend on enforcement, prosecution, and incarceration that could otherwise be reinvested into serious and violent crimes.
11. How do you think that tax revenue should be used?
We need to make significant investments in our public schools and make infrastructure improvements across our state. We’ve seen projects, such as the Zoo Interchange, be delayed indefinitely. After years of construction, this project in particular has been a planning failure from the start and the money simply isn’t there to complete it. Our public roads rank as some of the worst in the nation and local municipalities don’t have the ability to make improvements due to a lack of local taxing authority and depleted shared revenue payments from the state. We must also begin the process of fully-funding our public schools and restoring the cuts that have been made at the local level and to our UW System. A state such a Colorado, which is comparable in population to Wisconsin, is seeking sales now exceeding $1 billion with revenues of $200+ million per year. That’s a lot of progress that can be made to repair the damage left behind from the Walker administration. Lastly, new studies have shown that cannabis could be an effective treatment for opioid addiction. Following in Colorado’s footsteps, I would also set aside some revenue generated by cannabis sales for programs that are proven to reduce the opioid epidemic that is claiming too many lives throughout Wisconsin.
12. Why is cannabis law reform an important issue to you?
This reform is important to me for two reasons: tax revenue and criminal justice reform. Wisconsin needs new sources of revenue in order to pay for critical services and deferred maintenance such as public school funding and infrastructure improvements. This reform is also a large component to reforming how we treat those who enter our criminal justice system. Wisconsin taxpayers will save money by ending the enforcement of existing laws. The resources local law enforcement spends includes both time and money that should be allocated to serious and major crimes to increase public safety. This also extends to the prosecution of those brought up on crimes relating to possession and distribution in our courts, and also save tax dollars from reducing the number of people who are incarcerated.