Cannabis growing at a production facility
Cannabis is seen growing April 18, 2019, at Leafline Labs headquarters in Cottage Grove, Minn., an indoor cultivation and production facility used to grow marijuana for medical uses and create various pharmaceutical cannabis products. (Emily Hamer / Wisconsin Watch)
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Wisconsin Watch readers have submitted questions to our statehouse team, and we’ll answer them in our series, Ask Wisconsin Watch. Have a question about state government? Ask it here.

Question: “What is the status of the medical marijuana bills?”

Answer: Republican lawmakers in Wisconsin have long resisted legalizing marijuana for medical or recreational use, leaving Wisconsin among a handful of states that haven’t legalized marijuana use in some form.

Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat, has proposed legalizing marijuana for both recreational and medical purposes in all three of his budget proposals — most recently at the start of 2023 — but GOP lawmakers have slashed the provisions during the budget writing process all three times.

Nearly two-thirds (64%) of Wisconsinites support legalizing marijuana, according to an October 2022 Marquette University Law School poll. Evers often cites this popularity as evidence that Wisconsinites would support his plan to legalize weed and tax it, similar to what the state does with alcohol. “It’s time to join red and blue states across the country and get this done,” Evers wrote on social media.

Republicans remain opposed to legalizing marijuana for recreational use. Both Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, and state Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu, R-Oostburg, have said support for legalizing marijuana for medical use is growing in their caucuses.

On Sept. 22, Senate Minority Leader Melissa Agard, D-Madison, introduced a bill that would legalize marijuana for recreational and medical use in Wisconsin. Outside of Evers’ budget proposals, there have been two bills — one authored by Democrats and the other by Republicans — introduced since 2019 that would have legalized marijuana for recreational or medical use. Neither became law.

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Jack Kelly joined Wisconsin Watch in August 2023 as a statehouse reporter. He previously was a Wisconsin Watch contributing reporter on judicial and environmental issues and covered the statehouse for the Capital Times. He has a bachelor’s degree from UW-Madison and a master’s degree from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism.