You are here
Home > News > Wisconsin Republicans Express Support for Legalizing Weed

Wisconsin Republicans Express Support for Legalizing Weed

Republican lawmakers in Wisconsin are now “close” to supporting legislation to legalize medical marijuana, Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu said last week. Republican legislators in Wisconsin are now supportive of legalizing medical cannabis. They were opposed to a bill for medical marijuana last year that was supported and supported by Democrats, including Governor Tony Evers.

LeMahieu, who has opposed liberalizing Wisconsin’s cannabis laws, told reporters that he believes a medical marijuana bill could be passed by the state’s lawmakers this legislative session. He noted, however that any proposal that limits medical marijuana use to those suffering from severe chronic pain would be a failure.

“Our caucus is getting pretty close on medical marijuana,” LeMahieu told the Milwaukee Journal SentinelThis Thursday. “A lot of our members, who are maybe at a point where they can vote for it now, they just want to make sure it’s regulated well.”

“We don’t want people going in because their back hurts and getting medical marijuana,” he added. “It needs to be cancer pain, you know — prescribed.”

Rethinking the Republican Way

LeMahieu’s comments indicate a significant change in position for Republican leadership in the state Senate. Scott Fitzgerald and LeMahieu, former Senate Majority Leader, have repeatedly opposed legalizing marijuana. LeMahieu stated in 2021 that he wouldn’t support legalizing medical cannabis unless it was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. 

However, Wisconsin’s Republican lawmakers are not united in their opposition to legalizing medical marijuana. Robin Vos is also a Republican Assembly Speaker. He has expressed support for the legalization of medicinal cannabis. Although a spokesperson did not confirm that Vos supports Republican efforts this year, LeMahieu said that he thinks the proposal “could be” supported by Assembly Republicans in 2023.

Mary Felzkowski (Republican state senator) said that last week, she will reintroduce legislation which would establish a strictly controlled state-run medical marijuana program. According to the plan, patients would not be allowed to consume cannabis preparations like tinctures, liquids or topicals.

Felzkowski stated that medical marijuana was something she discovered after being treated for breast cancer stage 4. She said that her pain medication to combat breast cancer had caused severe discomfort that could not be legally relieved by legal opioids. 

“We are actually having those conversations right now — I can’t talk in for-sures, but will be reintroducing the bill,” Felzkowski said.

Last year’s proposal to legalize medical marijuana in Wisconsin died in the state legislature after failing to gain the support of Republican lawmakers. Wisconsin Medical Society opposed the bill, noting that there was insufficient research to support cannabis for medicinal purposes.

“Until science can determine which elements in grown marijuana are potentially therapeutic and which are potentially harmful, any ‘medical’ marijuana program is at best a pale imitation of true medical therapies developed through scientific research,” Mark Grapentine, chief policy and advocacy officer for the medical professionals trade group, wrote in a memo to Felzkowski in April.

Wisconsin’s strong support of cannabis reform

Wisconsin’s public supports marijuana policy reform. Marquette University Law School published a poll in October showing that 64% Wisconsinites supported legalizing marijuana for all uses. A separate 2019 survey showed that 88% of Wisconsinites were in favor of legalizing medicinal cannabis. 

Wisconsin’s Democratic State Legislators have been the driving force behind legalizing marijuana. Evers, who has long supported cannabis policy reform as the state’s governor, plans to include a legalization proposal in the state budget for this year, just as he did in 2021.

“Wisconsinites overwhelmingly support a path toward legalizing and regulating marijuana like we do alcohol while ensuring folks can access the life-saving medication they need,” Britt Cudaback, a spokeswoman for the governor, said in a statement. “As Gov. Evers indicated on Tuesday, he’s looking forward to working together with legislators on both sides of the aisle this session to find common ground on this important issue.”

Melissa Agard, Senate Minority Leader, has been the leader of several Wisconsin Democrats’ proposals for legalizing marijuana. These have all been blocked by Republican legislators. She stated that she is looking forward to hearing the details about the Senate Republicans’ medical marijuana legalization plan. 

But Agard said that she disagrees with selecting “winners and losers” whose chance of using medical marijuana depends on what kind of pain is arbitrarily included as a qualifying condition to participate in the program.

“I will always be a champion for full legalization of cannabis in Wisconsin,” said Agard. “I know that’s what a majority of people in our state want and we know the most dangerous thing about cannabis is that it remains illegal.”