Republican wants to loosen marijuana laws in Wisconsin

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A Republican legislator is joining three Democrats in a long shot effort to loosen penalties for possessing small amounts of marijuana in Wisconsin.

Rep. Adam Jarchow (R-Balsam Lake) said at a Tuesday news conference he realized the need for the proposal after voters in his rural, conservative district urged him to reconsider the state's approach to marijuana.

"The great thing about living in America is we have fifty laboratories of democracy," Rep. Jarchow said. "I'd like to see how those experiments in those states play out, but in the meantime it's important to have a discussion about criminal penalties and giving people felonies for possession of very small amounts of marijuana."

The measure from Jarchow, Sen. Fred Risser and Reps. Evan Goyke and Jonathan Brostoff would cap the penalty for possessing 10 grams or less of marijuana at $100 and remove the possibility of jail time.

The current maximum penalty is $1,000 and six months in jail.

The proposal faces an upward battle with Republicans who control the Legislature.

Jarchow says he doesn't expect it to pass but wants to start a bipartisan conversation.

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