What out-of-state Marijuana sales could mean for legalization in Wisconsin
Marijuana sales are on the rise in states surrounding Wisconsin. Key contributors of that are Wisconsinites themselves.
"It's not a surprise at all," said State Rep. Lee Snodgrass, D-57th District. "This is a lost opportunity that Republicans are causing. I mean, it's not stopping people from consuming marijuana or cannabis in Wisconsin. It's just stopping them from spending the money here and having us be able to recoup that tax revenue."
Last year, Illinois collected over $36 million in tax revenue from Wisconsin residents purchasing marijuana products. Snodgrass said this, paired with the community's support and the perceived benefits of legalization, mean a change is overdue.
"Then we can regulate it and law enforcement officers will have a very clear idea of what they're enforcing, what they're not," Snodgrass said. "Individuals in the state will have a clear idea of whether or not they're breaking the law. It's actually safer to legalize."
Wisconsin is surrounded by states which have some form of legalized marijuana. Michigan and Illinois have recreational marijuana, and in Minnesota, it's allowed for medical purposes. But in Wisconsin, the state's Republican-controlled Legislature hasn't passed any of the proposals to legalize.
"If the Governor puts things in the budget that he knows have been stripped out as policy because they're identified as such by the legislative fiscal bureau, there's not much of a chance that the legislature's going to be dealing with them," said State Rep. André Jacque, R-1st District, last November.
Jacque said that lawmakers wouldn't be passing any marijuana legislation. Others in the party have proposed medical marijuana. While some Republicans have suggested that as a possibility, State Rep. Robert Cowles, R-2nd District, said in January that it remains a question mark.
"I can consider medical marijuana, but that would have to be a separate bill," Cowles said. "Whether that comes to a vote on the floor of the senate is anybody's guess right now."
According to a Marquette Law School poll from last fall, 64% of residents in the state support full legalization.
But until the law is changed, money spent by Wisconsinites on marijuana will continue to flow out of state.