A possible compromise could still be reached
The Wisconsin Senate Republican leader has said that having state-run dispensaries for medical marijuana in Wisconsin as proposed by Assembly Republicans is a “nonstarter” in the Senate. However, he did not rule out the possibility of reaching a compromise that could pass.
A highly restrictive bill
The Assembly Republicans unveiled a bill on Monday that would limit medical marijuana only to severely ill people with chronic diseases such as cancer and allow for it to be dispensed at just five state-run locations. Smokable marijuana would not be allowed.
The bill is far from the full legalization that Democratic Gov. Tony Evers and Democrats have pushed unsuccessfully to pass for years. Evers said earlier this month that he would support medical marijuana only but was noncommittal on the Assembly’s plan.
A challenge for GOP senators
Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu said at a WisPolitics.com event that the “challenge” for the Assembly bill is that many GOP senators are opposed to having the state operate the dispensaries. “It’s a nonstarter for a lot of our caucus members,” LeMahieu said. “Why would we let government grow the size of government?”
LeMahieu also said creating a new office within the Department of Health Services to handle medical marijuana “seems like overkill”.
A potential compromise
LeMahieu did not specify what kind of compromise he was open to, but he suggested that there could be a way to do it. He said he thinks there could be a way to do it.
The measure must pass the Senate and Assembly, and be signed by Evers, before it would become law.
A comparison with neighboring states
Under the Assembly bill, the exact locations of Wisconsin’s dispensaries would be up to the state Department of Health Services, but they would be located in five different regions of the state.
Given that recreational marijuana is legal in neighboring Illinois, Minnesota and Michigan, many Wisconsin residents would be closer to a dispensary in another state where they could purchase whatever they wanted.
The Wisconsin Policy Forum estimated in a report last year that more than half of all Wisconsin residents over 21 live within a 75-minute drive to a legal dispensary in another state. And that was before Minnesota legalized recreational marijuana.
A list of eligible conditions
The Assembly proposal would limit the availability of marijuana to people diagnosed with certain diseases, including cancer, HIV or AIDS, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, inflammatory bowel disease, severe muscle spasms, chronic pain or nausea, and those with a terminal illness and less than a year to live.
Patients would be required to have a doctor’s diagnosis to obtain the marijuana at one of only five state-run dispensaries. The number of dispensaries could grow, Plumer said. Only the patient and up to three caregivers would be allowed to obtain the medical marijuana.
- The Wisconsin Senate Republican leader has rejected having state-run dispensaries for medical marijuana as proposed by Assembly Republicans.
- The Assembly Republicans have introduced a highly restrictive bill that limits medical marijuana only to severely ill people with chronic diseases and allows for it to be dispensed at just five state-run locations.
- The bill faces opposition from many GOP senators who are against government involvement in medical marijuana.
- There is still a possibility of reaching a compromise that could pass.
- Many Wisconsin residents live near legal recreational or medical marijuana dispensaries in neighboring states.
- The bill lists 15 eligible conditions for obtaining medical marijuana.
- Patients need a doctor’s diagnosis and can only have up to three caregivers.