A bipartisan group of state legislators has introduced a bill to legalize medical marijuana in Wisconsin, according to media reports. The bill, from Republican Sen. Patrick Testin and Democrats Sen. Jon Erpenbach and Rep. Chris Taylor, was being circulated among lawmakers for cosponsors on Friday.
Testin said in a statement that for him, legalizing the medicinal use of cannabis in Wisconsin is a personal issue.
“Growing up, my grandfather was one of my heroes. I watched as cancer robbed him of his strength and vitality,” he said. “I saw him make the decision to go outside the law to seek treatment with medical marijuana. It restored his appetite, and I believe it added months to his life. Doctors and patients, not government, should decide if cannabis is the right treatment.”
Under the measure, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services would be required to establish a medical cannabis registry and issue identification cards to patients with a qualifying condition such as cancer, HIV/AIDS, Alzheimer’s disease, post-traumatic stress disorder, or other serious medical conditions. Patients’ regular physicians will be required to request identifications cards from the state registry on their patients’ behalf.
The proposed legislation would also require that medical marijuana producers, manufacturers, testing laboratories, and dispensaries be licensed by the state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, which would be directed to prioritize locally-owned small businesses. Applicants would be required to pay an initial fee of $250 and those granted licenses will have to pay an annual fee of $5,000 to operate.
Taylor said in a statement that “nobody should be treated as a criminal for accessing the medicine they or their loved ones need.”
“This is a long overdue compassionate law that will finally allow sick patients to access the medicine they need,” she added.
Although the bill has bipartisan support, its chances in the state’s Republican-controlled legislature are uncertain. A spokeswoman for Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, who has previously indicated support for the legalization of medical marijuana, said that Vos was reviewing the bill but otherwise had no comment. Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald has said that he does not support legalizing the medicinal use of cannabis, but his office had no comment on the new bill.
Earlier this year, Democratic Gov. Tony Evers included the legalization of medical marijuana and the decriminalization of possession of small amounts of cannabis in a state budget bill, but those provisions were not included by the legislature in the final version of the measure.
The new bill is the first bipartisan attempt to legalize medical marijuana in Wisconsin since 2001, according to lawmakers. Currently, only CBD products with less than 0.3% THC are permitted in the state.
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