Bipartisan Wisconsin lawmakers on Tuesday unveiled a bill to decriminalize marijuana possession, a notable development in a state where cannabis reform has consistently stalled in the GOP-controlled legislature despite support from the Democratic governor. Reps. Shae Sortwell (R) and Sylvia Ortiz-Velez (D) are sponsoring the legislation in the Assembly, with a companion bill being led in the Senate by Sens. Kathleen Bernier (R) and Lena Taylor (D). There are currently about a dozen cosponsors attached to the proposal across both chambers and parties. At a time when more and more local Wisconsin jurisdictions are independently enacting cannabis reforms, this bill seeks to standardize decriminalization at the state level. That said, some advocates have pointed out that, in doing so, it may undermine some city policy changes by mandating higher fines than are now currently in effect. The measure would make it so possession of up to 14 grams of marijuana would be punishable by a $100 civil fine without the threat of jail time under state law for a first offense. Importantly, the bill would also eliminate “counting” of offenses if they involve 28 grams of cannabis or less, meaning people would not be subject to enhanced penalties for repeat offenses. While it remains to be seen whether the legislature will have the appetite to advance the measure, the sponsors say they’re working to strike a balance between legalization—as the governor, advocates, and some legislators want—and the status quo of criminalization.
Kyle Jaeger, Marijuana Moment, 11/16/2021 13:07:00