The column below reflects the views of the author, and these opinions are neither endorsed nor supported by WisOpinion.com.
This 4/20, the Wisconsin Cannabis Activist Network (WI-CAN; a merger of both SE WI NORML and Northern Wisconsin NORML) is celebrating the progress being made in marijuana law reform at the local level in Wisconsin.
We are proud to have worked with Supervisor Sylvia Ortiz-Velez on the first victory of the year: reducing marijuana fines to just $1 in Milwaukee County. We are now working with City of Milwaukee Alders Marina Dimitrijevic, Chantia Lewis, and Khalif Rainey on an even more significant victory: removing all penalties for possession of up to 1oz of marijuana in the City.
This bill, which is still being drafted but was announced in March, will explicitly allow for people over 18 years old to possess up to 1oz of marijuana and marijuana paraphernalia and will treat marijuana smoke as similar to tobacco smoke. The intention of this bill is to reduce police interactions due to marijuana, which disproportionately target communities of color.
While we continue to push for full legalization at the state level, and call on the Republicans who control the legislature to finally represent the will of their constituents on this issue, WI-CAN will be doing everything we can to reduce or remove penalties for marijuana possession at the local level across the state. Milwaukee is just the beginning.
WI-CAN and our partners are already in discussions with city council members, village trustees, county supervisors, and political activists in over a dozen localities to enact these reforms across the state and we are preparing to expand those discussions very quickly over the coming weeks. By the end of the year, dozens of cities, villages, and counties in Wisconsin will have reduced or removed marijuana penalties.
Given the endless obstruction by GOP leaders like Robin Vos and Devin LeMahieu, many believe we will never achieve marijuana legalization in Wisconsin. But by starting at the local level and mobilizing the 59% of Wisconinites who support legalization, I know “WI CAN” and we will!
– Marsch is co-director of operations for the Wisconsin Cannabis Activist Network.