On Monday, August 22nd, 2022, the Vote YES! Eau Claire campaign, chaired by Matthew Lehner, a local leader and activist and President of UW-Eau Claire College Democrats, officially launched ahead of the non-binding referendum question that voters will see on the November 8th election ballot. The question asks whether voters believe the State of Wisconsin should fully legalize cannabis for everyone 21 years of age or older, and to be regulated and taxed similar to alcohol. Judy Gatlin, an Eau Claire County Supervisor representing District 14, who wrote the original resolution to include the question on the November ballot, which was approved by the County Board in July, is serving the campaign as its Vice-Chair.
“This is about freedom, choice, and democracy,” Matthew Lehner remarked. “The voters of this county have an incredible opportunity to send a powerful message to our state legislature that frankly doesn’t give a damn about us,” he said. “I look forward to promoting the facts and the evidence to our community as to why we should vote yes on this referendum, and why our state legislature must legalize Marijuana in the State of Wisconsin.”
A 2022 survey from Marquette Law School found that 61% of registered voters support legalization, including 51% of Republicans, 60% of Independents and 75% of Democrats. Many neighboring states, such as Illinois and Michigan, have legalized Marijuana in recent years. Illinois has brought in over $600 million in tax revenue since adult-use sales began in 2020, and the industry is on track to employ 63,000 people by 2025. Michigan has brought in nearly $300 million in tax revenue since adult-use sales began in 2019, sending over $42.2 million to 163 participating municipalities and counties.
Voters will have an opportunity to make their decision at the polls on November 8th, where they will see the question presented in a “yes or no” form, along with elections for other offices respectively.