Wisconsin introduces legislation to make recreational cannabis use legal

Politicians in the US State of Wisconsin have introduced legislation to legalise recreational marijuana for adults and establish a framework for regulated cannabis sales. 

If passed, Wisconsin would join the nearly two dozen states in the US that have now ended the criminal prohibition of marijuana.

The bill was unveiled in a Wisconsin hemp farm  by Senator Melissa Agard, the state Senate Democratic Leader, If successful, the measure would legalise cannabis use and the possession of up to five ounces of marijuana by adults aged 21 and older.

“I’ve said this time and time again – we know that the most dangerous thing about cannabis in Wisconsin is that it remains illegal,” Agard said in a statement. “For the past decade, I have worked to undo Wisconsin’s antiquated and deeply unjust marijuana policies and put our state on a prosperous path forward.”

The bill would also remove criminal penalties for possession of marijuana by individuals under age 21, who would instead be subject to a fine for such offences. Additionally, adults charged with possession of more than five ounces of cannabis would no longer face felony charges.

Noting that a recent report found that Black people in Wisconsin were more than four times as likely to be charged with a marijuana offence than white people in 2018, the lawmakers said the cannabis legalisation bill lays a solid foundation for those that have been harshly convicted for non-violent possession charges and the ramifications of those convictions.

The legislation also allows for the regulated production, distribution and sale of marijuana and cannabis products. Cannabis consumption lounges would also be allowed, subject to local control. 

Marijuana producers would be subject to a 15% excise tax levied at the wholesale level, while retailers and lounges would pay a 10% tax on cannabis sales. Sales of medical marijuana would not be taxed, and 60% of tax revenue generated by cannabis taxes would be used to fund community reinvestment grants.