wisconsin weed legalization 2020

Madison to decriminalize cannabis, will not change rules on UW property

Majority of city council co-sponsored legislation, likely to pass, according to city alder

Katie Cooney /The Badger Herald

The City of Madison will vote on legislation to decriminalize the use of cannabis in the city of Madison during Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

Ald. Mike Verveer, District 4, is the author and co-sponsor of the legislation, which the Public Safety Review Committee recommended for approval to the Common Council on Oct. 14.

“I am very pleased that the vast majority of the City Council and the mayor co-sponsored the legislation, which guarantees its overwhelming approval at City Council meeting tomorrow night,” Verveer said.

Verveer said he believes that cannabis should be legal and regulated for adults in Wisconsin.

Verveer said in an advisory referendum in the November 2018 election that over 76% of Dane County voters voted in favor of recreational use of cannabis, which is why he believes its decriminalization is long overdue.

“I am pleased that Madison will largely wipe out any arrest for cannabis, or cannabis-related paraphernalia … so it will greatly diminish the existing discretion that Madison cops have to issue citations for possession of cannabis and for cannabis and drug paraphernalia,” Verveer said.

Tomorrow’s council meeting will discuss three ordinances. The first one generally legalizes relatively minor possession of cannabis in Madison. The second ordinance allows the possession of cannabis and related paraphernalia and the third one makes its use, particularly smoking, illegal in no-smoking zones.

According to a 20-year study by the Madison Police Department, Verveer said even though the cannabis usage rates in white and Black people are the same, there are higher citations issues to Black people in the city.

“I believe that this overdue reform will allow for an increased trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve,” Verveer said.

This ordinance has no effect on UW rules, according to Verveer who said students found in possession of cannabis or related paraphernalia within dorms or elsewhere on campus can be cited by the UW Police Department and face academic misconduct.

The ordinance will apply to UW students located anywhere not on the UW campus including in off campus housing. Verveer said, in an email to The Badger Herald, that he purposefully made the legal age 18 of the legislation so that UW students would benefit.

Madison to decriminalize cannabis, will not change rules on UW property Majority of city council co-sponsored legislation, likely to pass, according to city alder Katie Cooney /The Badger

Wisconsin Marijuana Laws

Updated September 2019

Wisconsin has some of the harshest penalties related to marijuana possession, sale, and cultivation. All levels of cultivation and sale are considered felonies, as are repeat possession offenses, with incarceration terms increasing based on quantity grown or sold. Wisconsin did pass a restrictive medical cannabis law in 2014. Learn more about Wisconsin marijuana laws below.

Recreational Marijuana in Wisconsin

Is marijuana legal in Wisconsin? No. The first offense of possession of any amount of marijuana in Wisconsin is a misdemeanor, punishable by six months in prison and a maximum fine of $1,000. Subsequent possession offenses, however, are felonies punishable by 3.5 years incarceration and a maximum fine of $10,000.

Nine of the state’s 10 largest cities have imposed ordinances decriminalizing minor marijuana possession offenses. In these cities – Appleton, Eau Claire, Green Bay, Kenosha, La Crosse, Marshfield, Milwaukee, Racine, Waukesa, and Wausau – simple possession is a civil ordinance that calls for a fine rather than a criminal offense.

Medical Marijuana in Wisconsin

There is currently no policy regarding medical marijuana in Wisconsin. The Legislature did pass Assembly Bill 726 (Lydia’s Law) in 2014 to legalize cannabis oil containing low levels of THC for children diagnosed with intractable epilepsy and then passed Senate Bill 10 in 2017 to expand the law to include any “medical condition.”

The laws are only symbolic, however, as there’s no legal way for patients to obtain the cannabis oil. The law requires that patients first obtain a prescription for the cannabis oil from a doctor, but physicians are not allowed to do so because the FDA has not approved cannabis. Additionally, the state hasn’t legalized growing cannabis and Federal law prevents transporting cannabis across state lines.

In 2016, Rep. Melissa Sargent introduced legislation that would have created a medical marijuana program for seriously ill patients, but it failed to pass through the committee process.

Consumption of CBD Hemp Oil in Wisconsin

Hemp-derived CBD products are legal under Federal Law in the United States; however, individual state laws are dynamic and fluid. Individual states may enact their own laws governing hemp-derived CBD.

Cultivation of Cannabis in Wisconsin

The cultivation of any amount of marijuana for personal or medicinal use in Wisconsin is a felony.

Licensed farmers can legally grow hemp under a state-sponsored pilot program. In 2017, Wisconsin lawmakers approved Senate Bill 119 to establish the pilot program, which aims to study the growth and marketability of hemp.

Legal Status of Other U.S. States

Stay up to date on the latest state legislation, referendums, and public opinion polls. Our Marijuana Legalization Map allows you to browse the current status of medical and recreational marijuana laws in other U.S. states and territories.



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