MADISON - February 18, 2019 – Governor Tony Evers today announced that his budget will include proposals to legalize medical cannabis, decriminalize possession of small amounts of cannabis for personal use, establish an expungement procedure for individuals who have completed their sentence or probation for possession, and align Wisconsin's laws on cannabidiol, also known as CBD oil, with federal standards.
The governor believes it is time for Wisconsin to join more than 30 other states and the District of Columbia in legalizing medical cannabis. Last year, nearly one million voters in 16 counties and two cities in Wisconsin voted to approve non-binding referenda asking if cannabis should be legal for medical or recreational use. These referenda all passed by significant majorities.
Under the governor's proposal, a physician, or a practitioner under the direction of a physician, can recommend the use of medical cannabis to alleviate symptoms related to medical conditions such as cancer, glaucoma, post-traumatic stress disorder, chronic pain, severe nausea, and seizures.
The governor will also align Wisconsin's laws on cannabidiol, also known as CBD oil, with federal standards. CBD oil is made from cannabis and can be used to treat seizures in children. Currently, Wisconsin law requires families to possess CBD oil only with yearly certification by a physician. The governor believes that families and individuals should be able to obtain this treatment without additional barriers.
"As a cancer survivor, I know the side effects of a major illness can make everyday tasks a challenge. People shouldn't be treated as criminals for accessing a desperately-needed medication that can alleviate their suffering," Gov. Evers said. "Wisconsinites overwhelmingly agree that this is a critically important issue. But it's not just about access to health care, it's about connecting the dots between racial disparities and economic inequity."
Reforming Wisconsin's cannabis laws to align with the people's support for medical cannabis is an important part of the governor's plan. But so, too, is addressing the social and racial justice aspect of cannabis use. Wisconsin has the highest incarceration rate in the country for Black men, and drug-related crimes account for as many as 75-85 percent of all inmates in our prisons.
That is why the governor will also decriminalize possession, manufacturing or distribution of cannabis for amounts of 25 grams or less. This language would also prevent localities from establishing their own ordinances or penalties for possession of less than 25 grams of cannabis. The governor's plan will also establish an expungement procedure for individuals convicted of possessing, manufacturing or distributing less than 25 grams of cannabis who have completed their sentence or probation.
"Too many people, often persons of color, spend time in our criminal justice system just for possessing small amounts of cannabis. That doesn't make our communities stronger or safer," Evers said. "This shouldn't be a Republican issue or Democratic issue, and I look forward to working on both sides of the aisle to pass this proposal in my budget."
Contact: GovPress@wisconsin.gov or (608) 219-7443