Add Wisconsin to the growing list of states permitting use of cannabis for medicinal purposes. There’s also a renewed push for legalizing medical cannabis in South Dakota.
Legislation introduced in both houses of the Wisconsin legislature on September 20 would legalize medical cannabis in the state. The bill sponsors include two Democrats – Senator Jon Erpenbach and Representative Chris Taylor – as well as Republican Senator Patrick Testin. The move follows broad voter support for a series of 2018 ballot initiative on cannabis. Close to a million voters in 16 different counties and two cities, approved ballot initiatives expressing support for medical cannabis legislation.
“It is long past time for state lawmakers to respond to the overwhelming call from the public to legalize medical cannabis in Wisconsin,” said Rep. Taylor. “This is a long overdue compassionate law that will finally allow sick patients to access the medicine they need.”
The proposed Wisconsin legislation creates a tightly regulated process for medical cannabis use that requires a recommendation from a doctor with whom a patient has an established relationship. It also requires the state Department of Health Services to create a cannabis patient registry system, and the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection to create a licensing system for cannabis growers, producers and sellers.
According to published reports, the bill is expected to receive plenty of backing in the state House, but Republican Scott Fitzgerald, the Senate Majority Leader, has said he’s opposed and not inclined to allow the legislation to be brought up for a vote by the entire state Senate.
2020 Ballot Initiatives in South Dakota?
Meanwhile, there’s a new cannabis legalization campaign underway in South Dakota. South Dakota lawmakers have taken a pretty adamant stance against cannabis. Past attempts to legalize medical cannabis have been shot down repeatedly in the state legislature. But a new group, South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws, is now seeking to secure enough signatures to support a pair of ballot initiatives next year to reform the state’s cannabis laws.
One of the ballot initiatives seeks to legalize cannabis for recreational purposes, another would establish a medical cannabis program for qualifying patients. The group needs to collect just over 33,000 signatures by November 3 to secure ballot initiatives for the 2020 election. The initiatives are being backed by a former federal prosecutor, Brendan Johnson, who served as U.S. Attorney for the District of South Dakota.