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420 with CNW — GOP Medical Cannabis Plan in Wisconsin Receives Muted Response

Wisconsin GOP assembly legislators have put forth a proposal aimed at legalizing medical cannabis in the state. The proposal, however, received a tepid response from Governor Tony Evers (D) and senate GOP leaders due to its highly restrictive nature.

Unlike the broader legalization efforts advocated by Democrats and Gov. Evers through the years, the proposed bill focuses on allowing medical cannabis use only for severely ill individuals dealing with chronic diseases such as cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, chronic pain and nausea. However, the bill introduces certain restrictions, such as limiting distribution to only five state-operated locations and prohibiting the use of smokable cannabis. Instead, various alternative forms of the substance, including liquids, patches, vapors, creams, gels, pills, tinctures, oils, gummies and concentrates, would be permissible. Evers, while expressing support for a medical cannabis program, remained noncommittal about the specifics of the proposal.

For the bill to become law, it must pass both the senate and assembly and receive the governor’s signature. However, the reception from key figures in the senate, including Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu, has been cautious. LeMahieu emphasized the need for thorough vetting before making any decisions on the bill.

Senate Minority Leader Dianne Hesselbein (D) acknowledged the proposal as a small step forward but expressed concerns about its restrictive nature. Meanwhile, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R) indicated that the outlined program was the maximum extent to which Republican assembly legislators were willing to go.

The bill entrusts the state’s health services department with determining the exact locations of the five dispensaries. Interestingly, given the legalization of recreational cannabis in neighboring Michigan, Illinois and Minnesota, Wisconsin residents may find closer access to dispensaries in other states. A 2023 report by the Wisconsin Policy Forum highlighted that more than one-half of Wisconsin residents above the age of 21 were within a 75-minute drive of a licensed dispensary in another state.

Under Evers’ 2023 rejected full-legalization proposal, Wisconsin anticipated collecting about $165 million annually in sales taxes. However, the current proposed medical cannabis proposal would not contribute to Wisconsin sales tax revenue.

The bill specifies that patients seeking medical cannabis must have a physician’s diagnosis and can obtain the cannabis only from one of the five state-operated dispensaries. Wisconsin stands out as an outlier nationally, with 38 states legalizing medical cannabis and 24 legalizing recreational cannabis. The momentum for legalization in Wisconsin has grown as neighboring states have relaxed their cannabis legalization laws.

Established enterprises such as SNDL Inc. (NASDAQ: SNDL) and the broader cannabis industry will be watching to see how the regulatory landscape in Wisconsin will shape up in the coming months leading to the November polls.

About CNW420

CNW420 spotlights the latest developments in the rapidly evolving cannabis industry through the release of two informative articles each business day. Our concise, informative content serves as a gateway for investors interested in the legalized cannabis sector and provides updates on how regulatory developments may impact financial markets. Articles are released each business day at 4:20 a.m. and 4:20 p.m. Eastern – our tribute to the time synonymous with cannabis culture. If marijuana and the burgeoning industry surrounding it are on your radar, CNW420 is for you! Check back daily to stay up-to-date on the latest milestones in the fast -changing world of cannabis.

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