MADISON, Wis. - A Wisconsin Democrat has proposed a bill to legalize marijuana for medical and recreational use in the state, something she says will jump start the economy and create new jobs.
State Representative Melissa Sargent (D-Madison) announced LRB-2457, legislation to legalize marijuana, Thursday at the State Capitol.
“This bill is so much more than legalizing marijuana—it’s about legalizing opportunity and prosperity,” said Sargent. “The state budget was due two weeks ago, and Wisconsin simply can’t afford to wait any longer. We deserve a real plan to create new jobs and stimulate our lagging economy, and that’s what this bill is.”
Sargent believes legalizing marijuana would help Wisconsin's economy, citing statistics from Colorado as an example.
"In Colorado, legalizing marijuana generated $2.4 billion in economic activity and created more than 18,000 new jobs in a single year alone," Sargent said.
The bill Sargent introduced includes providing employment and benefit protections for marijuana users, requiring insurance coverage for medicinal marijuana for terminal illnesses and incorporating marijuana into current alcohol and tobacco educational curricula in schools.
It would also treat marijuana as an agricultural product, requiring the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection to conduct periodic inspections and to promote best practices for producing, harvesting, and packaging, Sargent.
Previous attempts to legalize weed in the state has never received a public hearing or had a Republican cosponsor, Sargent said.
“I’ve spoken with my Republican colleagues across the aisle, and some of them have expressed their quiet support for my bill,” said Sargent, who also sent a letter to Governor Scott Walker, Speaker Robin Vos, and Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald suggesting they consider legalizing marijuana as they deliberate the state budget. “Given the severe budget crisis Wisconsin is facing, I am hopeful they can get past the ‘D’ next to my name long enough to give legalizing marijuana the earnest review and consideration Wisconsin deserves.”
This is the third time a bill to legalize marijuana has been introduced in the Wisconsin State Legislature since Sargent introduced the first bill of its kind during the 2013-2014 legislative session, she said.
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