Voters Across Wisconsin Will See Marijuana Questions On Their Ballots In November | Big Indy News
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Voters Across Wisconsin Will See Marijuana Questions On Their Ballots In November



Wisconsin voters in at least half a dozen cities and counties will be asked on November’s ballot whether they support legalizing, taxing and regulating cannabis in a manner similar to alcohol.

In recent weeks, local governments in the counties of Dane, Eau Claire and Milwaukee, along with the cities of Appleton, Kenosha and Racine, approved advisory referenda meant to gauge public opinion on legalization. While the results would cause no immediate change in law, they could send a message to state lawmakers about the popularity of marijuana reform with voters.

It’s already widely known that most Wisconsin voters support cannabis legalization. A poll released in March by Marquette Law School found that 61 percent of surveyed voters favored the reform, including a majority of Republicans. In response, Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke (R) said legalization was “likely” to happen at some point.

Yet because Wisconsin lacks a statewide initiative process, citizens can’t enact the change themselves. And so far, the GOP-led legislature has failed to advance more modest reforms, such as decriminalization or legalization of medical marijuana.

Multiple cities and counties across the state have strongly approved local, non-binding ballot referendums expressing support for marijuana reform in recent years.

“What we’re trying to do here is show the strength of support,” Dane County Supervisor Aaron Collins said of the local legalization referendum in November, according to The Cap Times. “We know the majority of people in Wisconsin, according to polling, want marijuana legalized.”

In Wisconsin’s Dane County, voters previously approved a series of medical and adult-use legalization questions in 2010, 2014 and 2018 with support ranging from 64.5 percent to 76.4 percent.

A second Dane County referendum will ask whether people previously convicted for simple cannabis possession should have those records expunged. Possession of marijuana alone accounts for 57 percent of all drug arrests in the state, and Collins said that Black people in the county are four times as likely as white people to be arrested on possession charges.

Eau Claire County will also see adult-use legalization as an advisory referendum, according to WQOW. Supervisor Judy Gatlin, who proposed the ballot question, said the reform would help cancer patients and veterans. “Maybe they don’t have a medical card,” she said, “but they know what helps them.”

Supervisors in Milwaukee County, the state’s largest county by population, have also approved an advisory question for November’s ballot, Urban Milwaukee reported. Last year county supervisors passed a measure reducing the fine for possessing small amounts of cannabis to $1 under local law.

At the municipal level, officials in the cities of Appleton, Kenosha and Racine have also approved legalization referenda for November.

Appleton Common Councilmember Israel Del Toro said the votes would send a message to state lawmakers.

“When multiple municipalities act together and voice their collective will of the residents that they are representing, Madison has a responsibility to listen,” Del Toro said, according to the Appleton Post Crescent.

A resolution placing the Kenosha’s referendum on the ballot, approved last week, says legalization “would undercut the illicit market, and insure that marijuana use and sale are regulated and safe,” Kenosha News reported.

“I was hoping that this, if passed in the City of Kenosha with a referendum, would help that process,” said sponsor Alderperson Anthony Kennedy.

In Kenosha County, 88 percent of residents approved of legalization in a 2018 legalization referendum.

In Racine, meanwhile, Alderman CJ Rouse called the vote in November “a litmus test of where our voters are at right now,” according to the Racine Journal Times.

At the county level in 2018, nearly 59 percent of Racine County voters expressed support for legalization in a similar referendum.

Legalization advocates at local NORML chapters have helped promote the referenda and shared sample wording with other supporters.

In Green Bay, meanwhile, the city’s protection and policy committee reportedly rejected a cannabis legalization referendum over concerns by some officials that running the ballot question would cost roughly $15,000 and have no impact on the law. “I think there’s ways that you can vocalize to your legislators for free via email [and] phone calls,” said Alderperson Jennifer Grant. “There’s ways to get loud without costing money.”

Alderperson Craig Stevens said the money could be used to fill potholes instead.

In La Crosse County, supervisors also kept an advisory question off November’s ballot due to cost, according to the La Crosse Tribune.

“It’s silly to spend $5,000 on a referendum that we already know the answer to,” Supervisor Dan Ferries said.

Supervisor Rob Abhraham, who said that he supports legalization, added: “What we should be doing is electing state officials who will do what their constituents want them to do.”

As it stands under Wisconsin law, marijuana possession is punishable by a maximum $1,000 fine and up to six months in jail for a first offense. People convicted of a subsequent offense can face a felony charge punishable by a maximum $10,000 fine and up to three and a half years in prison.

In August of last year, three senators separately filed legislation to legalize cannabis for adult use in the state. In November, a bipartisan pair of legislators introduced a bill to decriminalize low-level marijuana possession. But so far the proposals have stalled in the Republican-controlled statehouse.

Gov. Tony Evers (D) tried to legalize recreational and medical marijuana through his proposed state budget last year, but a GOP-led legislative committee stripped the cannabis language from the legislation. Democrats tried to add the provisions back through an amendment, but Republicans blocked the move.

The governor also recently vetoed a GOP-led bill that would have significantly ramped up criminal penalties for people who use butane or similar fuels to extract marijuana.

Some Republicans filed a limited medical cannabis bill this year—and it got a hearing on the unofficial marijuana holiday 4/20, but that came too late in the legislative session for lawmakers to actually vote on the measure.

Other Republican lawmakers have filed bills to more modestly decriminalize marijuana possession in the state, but none of those proposals advanced during last year’s session.

Evers held a virtual town hall event last year where he discussed his cannabis proposal, emphasizing that polling demonstrates that Wisconsin residents back the policy change.

Cannabis will also feature in local elections in a number of other states this fall. So far, activists in municipalities in Texas, Ohio and West Virginia are working to put measures on the ballot to decriminalize cannabis possession locally—with some of those proposals having already qualified. And unlike in Wisconsin, those votes could make a legal impact: While possession would still be classified as a misdemeanor in many cases, it would carry no monetary penalties or jail time.

Meanwhile, voters across the country may see drug policy reform measures on their statewide November ballots:

Colorado voters will have the chance to decide on a historic ballot initiative this November to legalize psychedelics and create licensed psilocybin “healing centers” where people can use the substance for therapeutic purposes.

In May, South Dakota officials certified that activists turned in a sufficient number of signatures to qualify a marijuana legalization measure for the November ballot.

Maryland lawmakers passed legislation this year, which the governor allowed to go into effect without his signature, that will put the issue of cannabis legalization before voters this November.

In Arkansas, the secretary of state certified that activists turned in more than enough signatures to put a marijuana legalization initiative on the ballot, but a state board is disputing the language of the measure. The case is now before the state Supreme Court.

North Dakota activists turned in what they believe to be enough signatures to place a marijuana legalization initiative before voters.

Oklahoma activists also said they’ve submitted what they believe to be more than enough signatures to qualify a marijuana legalization initiative for the November ballot.

Nebraska advocates recently submitted signatures for a pair of medical cannabis legalization initiatives. The campaign has faced several challenges along the way, including the loss of critical funding after a key donor passed away and a court battle of the state’s geographic requirements for ballot petitions.

A campaign to put cannabis legalization on the Missouri ballot may be in jeopardy, as early reporting shows that activists are coming up short on the required signatures in key districts.

An initiative to legalize marijuana will not appear on Ohio’s November ballot, the campaign behind the measure announced in May. But activists did reach a settlement with state officials in a legal challenge that will give them a chance to hit the ground running in 2023.

Michigan activists announced in June that they will no longer be pursuing a statewide psychedelics legalization ballot initiative for this year’s election and will instead focus on qualifying the measure to go before voters in 2024.

The campaign behind an effort to decriminalize drugs and expand treatment and recovery services in Washington State said in June that it has halted its push to qualify an initiative for November’s ballot.

While Wyoming activists said earlier this year that they made solid progress in collecting signatures for a pair of ballot initiatives to decriminalize marijuana possession and legalize medical cannabis, they didn’t get enough to make the 2022 ballot deadline and will be aiming for 2024 while simultaneously pushing the legislature to advance reform even sooner.

In March, California activists announced that they came up short on collecting enough signatures to qualify a measure to legalize psilocybin mushrooms for the state’s November ballot, though they aren’t giving up on a future election cycle bid.

Meanwhile, there are various local reforms that activists want to see voters decide on this November—including local marijuana decriminalization ordinances in Ohio, West Virginia and Texas.

Arkansas Marijuana Campaign Files Lawsuit To Put Legalization Measure On Ballot After State Board’s Rejection

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New congressional leaders on cannabis (Newsletter: November 29, 2022)



Young Americans twice as likely to smoke marijuana than cigarettes; Colombia & Mexican presidents want drug war review; TX cannabis decrim pushback

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Marijuana Moment compiled a deep dive into the cannabis voting records of the incoming Republican and Democratic House leaders. We examined their support for and opposition to federal legislation on legalization, banking, veterans, research and more.

Colombian President Gustavo Petro and Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said in a joint statement that they will convene other Latin American leaders for a conference focused on “redesigning and rethinking drug policy” given the “failure” of prohibition.

A new Gallup poll shows that young Americans are now more than twice as likely to smoke marijuana than cigarettes.

Texas activists are pushing back as local lawmakers in several cities are working to undermine marijuana decriminalization ballot measures that voters overwhelmingly approved this month. In Harker Heights, for example, the City Council repealed the reform—but now advocates want to put it back on the ballot again.

The Kansas legislature’s Special Committee on Workforce Development voted to recommend that colleagues “proceed with caution” on medical cannabis legalization due to concerns about drug testing and labor shortages.


A White House spokesperson said President Joe Biden’s marijuana pardons will “bring relief to thousands of Americans.”

Customs and Border Protection defended a lifetime ban on visiting the U.S. that was imposed on a Canadian man who had a bottle of CBD oil in his car when crossing the border.

Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-NV) tweeted, “I introduced a common sense bill to level the playing field for legally-operating cannabis small businesses so that they have access to the @SBAgov resources they need to thrive.”

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) discussed his marijuana research bill that is expected to be signed into law by President Joe Biden soon.

Rep. Dave Joyce (R-OH) tweeted that his bill to create a federal commission to study marijuana regulations ” gives lawmakers the answers they need to effectively regulate cannabis & forces executive agencies to prepare for the inevitable end to prohibition. With a deadline of 1 year to act, PREPARE bolsters @POTUS’ EO’s, paving the way for more comprehensive reform.”


Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D) tweeted, “It’s long past time for Wisconsin to join other states in legalizing, regulating, and taxing marijuana, much like we already do with alcohol. Nearly two-thirds of Wisconsinites support legalizing marijuana—it’s time to get this done.”

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) said he supports research on medical cannabis but he is not comfortable with advancing any marijuana legislation that would contradict federal law.

Ohio’s House speaker said members have interest in enacting a Senate-passed bill to expand the medical cannabis program in the lame duck session.

Minnesota’s outgoing House majority leader authored an op-ed arguing that the state is “on the verge of passing the best cannabis legislation in the nation.” He also discussed his support for legalization in a radio interview.

A Pennsylvania representative’s office is assisting people with registering as medical cannabis patients.

The Arkansas Supreme Court is  being asked to reconsider the loss of a medical cannabis cultivation company’s license.

A Massachusetts judge heard arguments in a case challenging the local impact fees that Haverhill charges to marijuana businesses.

Oklahoma regulators are accepting public comment on proposed medical cannabis rules.

Rhode Island regulators issued guidance about marijuana taxes.

The Virginia Crime Commission is considering proposals on marijuana-impaired driving.

Vermont regulators will review marijuana guidance, proposed rules changes and recommendations for license approvals and social equity status on Wednesday.

Washington State regulators will host the first Cannabinoid Science Work Group meeting on Thursday.

The Nevada Cannabis Advisory Commission’s Subcommittee on Public Health will meet on Thursday.

Marijuana Moment is tracking more than 1,500 cannabis, psychedelics and drug policy bills in state legislatures and Congress this year. Patreon supporters pledging at least $25/month get access to our interactive maps, charts and hearing calendar so they don’t miss any developments.

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The Elyria, Ohio City Council Utilities, Safety and Environmental Committee rejected a marijuana decriminalization proposal.

District attorneys in several North Carolina counties discussed their decisions to deprioritize marijuana prosecutions.

Reno, Nevada officials are holding meetings to take public feedback on a proposal to allow marijuana consumption lounges on Wednesday and Thursday.


The president of Thailand’s Parliament said lawmakers still have enough time to consider cannabis and hemp legislation before the end of the session.

The Lithuanian Parliament’s Committee on Legal Affairs advanced marijuana decriminalization legislation.

The Canadian Senate Committee on Indigenous Peoples held a hearing on how cannabis laws impact indigenous populations. Separately, the Senate Subcommittee on Veteran Affairs  heard testimony on the therapeutic potential of psychedelics in treating PTSD.

The Philippine government is launching a new drug policy that it says will focus on demand reduction and rehabilitation instead of killing people who consume drugs.

Malta’s Authority for the Responsible Use of Cannabis is expected to start accepting applications for marijuana club licenses by February.

Colombia’s National Institute of Cancerology wants to produce cannabis medicines. Separately, the Justice Ministry and National Planning Department participated in a cannabis conference.

Victoria, Australia’s Legalise Cannabis Party is expected to win seats in the Legislative Council.


A study suggested that “the commercially available CBD products included in this study are safe and may serve as potentially effective complementary therapies for management of anxiety, sleep disturbance, and pain.”

A review found “a significant pain reduction in response to placebo in cannabinoid randomized clinical trials” and concluded that “media attention was proportionally high, with a strong positive bias, yet not associated with the clinical outcomes.”


The Iowa Republican Party and Democratic Party chairs discussed their views on marijuana policy.


A spokesperson for Meta discussed the company’s ban on content that promotes the buying and selling of illegal drugs including marijuana.

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Young Americans Are Twice As Likely To Smoke Marijuana Than Cigarettes, New Gallup Data Shows



Young people are now more than twice as likely to report smoking marijuana compared to cigarettes, according to a new analysis of survey data from Gallup.

Past-week cigarette smoking by adults 18-29 declined from 15 percent in 2016-2018 to a new low of 12 percent in 2019-2022.

Meanwhile, 26 percent of adults in that age group now say that they smoke cannabis, compared to 21 percent in the earlier survey period.

Overall, the 2019-2022 data shows that 27 percent of Americans smoke cigarettes, marijuana or e-cigarettes. Gallup found that seven percent smoke cannabis alone, nine percent smoke cigarettes alone and three percent smoke e-cigarettes alone.

But it’s the youngest generation that is most strongly opting for cannabis over cigarettes—a trend that could be attributed to any number of factors, including public education campaigns about the dangers of tobacco and the decreased public perception of harm around marijuana.

It’s also possible that people generally feel more willing to openly report smoking cannabis amid the state-level legalization movement and congressional efforts to end prohibition, aside from the amount of actual change in use patterns.

People in the 18-29 age category are the most likely to smoke or vape something, at 40 percent. But almost four times as many young people smoke only marijuana (11 percent) as they do only cigarettes (three percent).

In contrast, people in the 30-49 age group were slightly more likely to say they exclusively smoked cigarettes in the past week (11 percent) than those who only smoked cannabis (eight percent).

Gallup separately released a data analysis in August that found, for the first time, that more Americans openly admitted to smoking marijuana or eating cannabis-infused edibles than those who said they’ve smoked cigarettes in the past week.

While that survey didn’t include an age-based demographic breakdown, Gallup did release data in 2019 that showed young people were more likely to smoke marijuana than cigarettes. And compared to the new poll, the gap in the use of those substances among young people has increased.

“Public health officials would be encouraged by the steep decline in cigarette smoking over the past two decades, a trend driven largely by plummeting smoking rates among young adults,” Gallup said. “But young adults are increasingly smoking marijuana, perhaps because it is now legal to use in a growing number of states, and vaping. Both vaping and marijuana are more common activities for young adults than traditional cigarette smoking.”

“Still, fewer young adults smoke or vape today than smoked cigarettes two decades ago, before e-cigarettes became widely available. And although many health researchers believe vaping is safer than smoking traditional cigarettes, they do not believe e-cigarettes are safe in general. Further, the long-term health effects of vaping are not as well-known, and the Food and Drug Administration has taken steps to try to limit marketing of vaping to minors.”

It should be pointed out that the individual language of Gallup’s questions about cigarettes, e-cigarettes and marijuana are distinct in that the cigarette question asks about “past-week” usage, whereas the cannabis question is more general, without a timeline.

Additionally, respondents were asked about “smoking” marijuana, which would potentially exclude a significant portion of the cannabis-consuming population that uses edibles, vapes or other non-combustible products.

This dataset—which involved interviews with 3,545 adults for the 2019-2022 results, with a margin of error ranging from 4-5 percentage points—was released on the heels of Gallup’s broader annual survey that includes questions about drug consumption trends.

That poll found that seven in 10 Americans say that marijuana should be legalized—including majorities of all political parties and age demographics.

The findings and demographic trends from the survey are generally consistent with recent polling on the issue, including one that showed just one in ten Americans say that marijuana should remain completely illegal.

Another recent survey that was commissioned by Fox News and the Associated Press and conducted in the lead-up to the election found 63 percent support for legalization nationwide.

Interestingly, that survey also found majority support for ending prohibition among voters in two states that rejected legalization initiatives last week, signaling that the measures might have failed in part because of disagreements about specific provisions rather than the basic concept of legalization.

A poll released last month also shows that a majority of Americans are in favor of President Joe Biden’s decision to grant pardons to people who’ve committed federal marijuana possession offenses, and most also want to see their own governors follow suit with state-level cannabis relief.

Meanwhile, the same young adults who are most likely to report smoking marijuana compared to cigarettes are also the most likely to say that the plant should be legalized, indicating that the trend will continue.

In August, Gallup separately released data showing that more than twice as many Americans think that cannabis has a positive impact on its consumers and society at large than say the same about alcohol.

That’s generally consistent with the results of a separate poll released in March that found more Americans think it’d be good if people switched to cannabis and drank less alcohol compared to those who think the substance substitution would be bad.

Interestingly, a 2020 Gallup survey separately showed that 86 percent of Americans view alcohol use as morally acceptable, compared to 70 percent who said the same about marijuana consumption.

Texas Activists Fight Back After Local Lawmakers Undermine Voter-Approved Marijuana Decriminalization Measures

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Texas Activists Fight Back After Local Lawmakers Undermine Voter-Approved Marijuana Decriminalization Measures



Texas officials in several cities have moved to overturn or undercut local marijuana decriminalization ordinances that voters overwhelmingly approved at the ballot this month—but activists aren’t going down without a fight.

Five cities passed the decriminalization ballot measures with strong margins on November 8, but city councils and officials in at least three of those localities are facing criticism from advocates over their attempts to undermine the reforms. In Harker Heights, for example, the city council voted last week to repeal the ordinance altogether.

Ground Game Texas, the campaign that spearheaded the decriminalization ordinances, says it is planning to collect signatures for another local referendum to go before voters during Harker Heights’s next election that would effectively repeal the repeal.

In Denton, meanwhile, local officials haven’t pursued an outright repeal of the reform measure that voters approved there, but they have challenged key provisions, saying that the city isn’t authorized to direct police to make the prescribed policy changes. However, the mayor and city manager have said that low-level cannabis offenses will continue to be treated as low law enforcement priorities.

The Killeen City Council decided to press pause on implementing the local voter-approved decriminalization ordinance, arguing that there are legal concerns that lawmakers need to sort through before potentially giving it their approval.

One councilmember, Jose Segarra, said that he took particular issue with provision of the reform measure preventing police from using the odor of marijuana alone as the basis for a search, and he suggested that the local government could amend the ordinance to eliminate that language.

So far, the two other Texas cities that passed decriminalization measures this month—Elgin and San Marcos—have not raised legislative or legal objections. But advocates aren’t planning to cede any of the victories.

Since the Harker Heights City Council has already approved a resolution to repeal the ordinance, there’s particular urgency for advocates to take responsive action, which is shaping up to look like a secondary referendum for the May 2023 ballot.

“Everything is in city charter,” Louie Minor, a Bell County commissioner-elect who worked on the Harker Heights and Killeen cannabis decriminalization campaigns, told The Killeen Daily Journal. “A referendum would mean going out and getting signatures. We have a very short time period, though. The citizens would vote on repealing the ordinance that repealed Proposition A.”

In Denton, when local officials first suggested earlier this month that they weren’t comfortable fully implementing the voter-approved cannabis decriminalization measure, Ground Game Texas pushed back by issuing a legal memo.

“The voters of Denton have spoken. By an overwhelming margin, they passed an initiative to prioritize scarce public safety initiatives for important needs that serve Denton, rather than wasteful enforcement of low-level marijuana offenses,” Mike Siegel, a co-founder of the group, said. “City staff do not have the authority to disregard election results and usurp the will of the voters. We hope and expect that officials in positions of public trust will fulfill the will of the voters they serve and ensure that Proposition B is duly enforced immediately.”

The Denton City Council has since voted 6-0 to accept the results of the election.

The reform measures might be new to the cities where lawmakers are raising concerns, but they’re not without precedent in the Lone Star state. Austin voters, for example, strongly approved a marijuana decriminalization measure this past May—and it doesn’t appear that the city has grappled with any major legal battles over the modest policy change.

Meanwhile, San Antonio, the second largest Texas city by population, could get the chance to locally decriminalize marijuana in May 2023 after activists announced last month that they were launching a signature drive for ballot placement.

While there’s been a surge of local action on marijuana issues under home rule laws in Texas over recent years, statewide reform has generally stalled in the conservative legislature.

The House approved a cannabis decriminalization bill in 2019, but it did not advance in the Senate that session Lawmakers have since been unable to pass additional expansive cannabis bills in recent sessions.

For his part, Gov. Greg Abbott (R) said that he doesn’t believe people should be incarcerated over low-level marijuana possession. However, the governor incorrectly suggested that lawmakers have already adopted the policy statewide.

A poll released last year found that a strong majority of Texans—including most Republicans—support even broader reform to legalize marijuana for adult use. Another survey found that 60 percent of voters in the state support making cannabis legal “for any use” and about nine in ten voters think marijuana should be legalized for some purpose.

Additionally, a poll released in June found that cannabis legalization is more popular in Texas than the state’s top elected officials and President Joe Biden.

House Speaker Dade Phelan (R) said in September that he will work to enact criminal justice reform in the 2023 session, and he again expressed support for lowering penalties for marijuana possession.

Marijuana Moment is tracking more than 1,500 cannabis, psychedelics and drug policy bills in state legislatures and Congress this year. Patreon supporters pledging at least $25/month get access to our interactive maps, charts and hearing calendar so they don’t miss any developments.

Learn more about our marijuana bill tracker and become a supporter on Patreon to get access.

Former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D), who was the Democratic gubernatorial nominee in Texas this year, has long advocated for an end to marijuana prohibition and included the reform as a tenet of his campaign. But he ultimately lost the race to Abbott.

There were some drug policy reforms that did advance in the legislature during last year’s session, but not necessarily at the pace that advocates had hoped to see.

A bill to expand the state’s medical cannabis program and another to require a study into the therapeutic potential of certain psychedelics for military veterans were enacted.

The Texas Republican Party adopted a platform plank endorsing decriminalization of marijuana possession in 2018, but that was later rescinded.

Separately, the state Supreme Court heard testimony in March in a case concerning the state’s ban on manufacturing smokable hemp products—the latest development in a drawn-out legal battle on the policy first proposed and challenged in 2020.

In San Antonio, activists will need to collect at least 20,000 valid signatures from registered voters by early January to qualify for the May 2023 ballot. The groups said they plan to submit a minimum of 35,000 signatures.

Colombian And Mexican Presidents Announce International Effort To Reshape Drug Policy, Condemning ‘Failure’ Of Prohibition

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