Wisconsin Voters Say Yes

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A Howard, Wis. woman with chronic pain wants the opportunity to see if medical marijuana can help her conditions. Sarah Kloepping, USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin

Voters in a range of Wisconsin counties and two cities Tuesday said yes to non-binding questions about whether marijuana should be legal in the state.

Voters in Dane, Milwaukee and Rock counties said the legislature should legalize marijuana for recreational use. In La Crosse County, partial returns showed about 55 percent of voters favor legalizing marijuana for recreational use.

Referendums appeared headed for passage in each of the 10 counties and one city in which voters were asked only if marijuana should be legal if prescribed by a doctor for medical conditions.

In each case, voters favored legalizing medical marijuana by margins of two to one, or better.

“I’m delighted that three-fourths of Brown County voters sent a message that we are in favor of legalizing medical marijuana, and want them to move forward to change laws so people who are sick or suffering can use marijuana as medicine,” said Laura Kiefert, a resident of Howard, Brown County, who a long-time chronic pain sufferer.

“It’s time for those state legislators to let go of their prejudices against cannabis,” she said, “and hear the will of the people.”

The referendums are non-binding, meaning they don’t change state laws, or ordinances in communities in which they were held. They were intended as a way to send a message to state lawmakers that it it’s time to change the laws.

A 2018 Marquette Law School Poll of Wisconsin voters found a majority believe marijuana should be legalized.

In the poll, 61 percent of respondents said marijuana should be fully legalized and regulated like alcohol, while 36 percent opposed legalization. A poll in July 2016 had found 59 percent of respondents supported legalization; 39 percent opposed it.

Recreational Referendums

Figures from the counties where voters were asked if recreational marijuana use should be legal for people 21 years and older:

Dane County: With 235 of 246 precincts reporting, residents favored legalization by a 246-348-64,999, a margin of more than three to one.

Milwaukee County: With 468 of 478 precincts reporting, the vote was 217,628-93,116 in favor of legalization.

La Crosse County: With 15 of 55 precincts reported, about 55 percent of voters favoring legalization.

Rock County: Almost 70 percent voted yes, 46,589-20,746.

Medical only

Results from communities where voters were asked only about medical marijuana:

Brown County: With 44 of 97 precincts reporting as of 11:50 p.m., almost 74 percent of people casting ballots favored legalization, 46,812-16,649. Those figures didn’t include votes cast in the city of Green Bay.

Clark County: Voters favored legalization, 7,674-3,673.

Forest County: Voters were favoring legalization 3,090-824, a margin of more than three to one.

Kenosha County: Approved, 59,638-7,753. That’s a margin of almost 8 to 1.

Langlade County: Voters were favoring legalization, 7,061-2,071. 

Lincoln County: Voters favored legalization, 10,612-2,517. That’s a margin of more than four to one.

Marathon County: Approved, 49,137-11,115, a margin of better than four to one.

Marquette County: With 18 of 19 precincts reporting, voters favored legalization, 5,019-1,462. That’s a margin of more than three to one.

Portage County: Voters favoring legalization by better than four to one: 19,527-3,867. 

Sauk County: SVoters favored legalization by roughly four to one, 22,684-5,673.

City of Waukesha: Approved 23,731-7,243, a margin of better than three to one.

Currently, Wisconsin and 14 other states allow use of only low-THC cannabidiol products by prescription. Wisconsin limits cannabidiol products to the treatment of seizure disorders. THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the chemical in marijuana that produces a sense of euphoria.

Multiple Questions

Eau Claire County, Racine County and the city of Racine asked multiple questions about marijuana legalization.

In Eau Claire County, voters approved of legalizing marijuana for medical and recreational use by people 21 or older, provided it was taxed and regulated like alcohol and proceeds from taxes used for education, healthcare, and infrastructure. 

The vote was 29,564 for complete legalization to 14,958 for legalization only by prescription for medical use; 6,982 said it should remain illegal.

Racine County asked voters three questions about marijuana legalization. The numbers, with 63 of 69 precincts reporting:

  • Voters said marijuana should be legalized for medicinal use, 64,339-11,420.
  • Voters said marijuana be legalized and regulated for people 21 and older, 44,688-30,602.
  • Voters said marijuana sales should be taxed for state and local revenue, 60,156-14,376. 

The city of Racine asked four questions. the results, with 34 of 36 precincts reporting:

  • Voters said cannabis should be legalized for adult recreational use, 16,528-8,344.
  • Voters said cannabis be legalized for medical use, 21,720-3,054.
  • Voters said cannabis sales should be taxed and the revenue used for public education, health care, and infrastructure, 20,552-4,166.
  • Voters said cannabis should be decriminalized, 17,615-6,950.

Other states’ laws

Comprehensive medical marijuana programs are allowed in thirty-one states plus Washington, D.C., Guam and Puerto Rico.

Washington, D.C.; and nine states have legalized small amounts of marijuana for adult recreational use. Vermont was the most recent; its law went in effect on July 1.

Twenty-two states and the District of Columbia have decriminalized small amounts of marijuana.

Source: Green Bay Gazette

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