Wisconsin Marijuana debate continues as Minnesota becomes latest to legalize
Minnesota is the latest state to legalize recreational marijuana.
This makes Wisconsin an island state surrounded by Minnesota, Michigan and Illinois with full legalization.
Some Wisconsin lawmakers are continuing their push to catch up. Yet, the legality of the drug remains at a standstill in the Republican-controlled legislature.
"What we are doing is pushing Wisconsinites to drive over the border, purchase and use," said State Rep. Lee Snodgrass, D-57th District. "If we had the ability to legalize here in Wisconsin, we'd be able to safely regulate it."
Minnesota is the 23rd state to legalize recreational marijuana. Snodgrass said it continues to show what Wisconsin is missing out on.
"Both Michigan and Illinois have had over a billion dollars in sales," Snodgrass said. "We continue to let money leave this state that we could have here funding the things that we care about -- infrastructure, schools."
Some on the other side of the aisle believe the negative effects would outweigh the positives.
"There are extraordinary costs associated with public safety," said Republican Sen. Ron Johnson. "You have to take a look at what's happening in terms of traffic accidents. You have to take a look at what's happened to our young people."
Johnson is urging state lawmakers to do more research before moving forward.
"It can be a real problem," Johnson said. "I would not be lurching forward with any kind of legalization of marijuana without a really serious look into what the increases are with the states that have legalized it."
Though marijuana is illegal in Wisconsin, people can still get legally high using hemp-derived products.
THE Dispensary has nine locations across the state, selling products that contain THC at legal levels.
"We take education number one priority everything," CEO Will Nething said. "Safety for our consumers. We've been doing research since the '70s with THC, and none of the side effects listed is half the stuff you get at a doctor's office."
Nething believes the state would still need to figure out taxing and regulating if full legalization becomes reality. But if that change is made, he'll be ready to provide safe and legal marijuana.
"We are in a position to where we would switch and sell under the licensing program because we think regulation is the number one thing behind it," Nething said.
A Marquette law school poll from November indicated 64% of registered voters in Wisconsin support legalization.
Some Republican lawmakers indicated earlier this year that they would be open to a bill to legalize medical marijuana. But so far no bill has been introduced. Wisconsin is one of just 12 states that does not have marijuana legal for medical use.