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Wisconsin Remains Tough Target for Legal Weed

While other states are legalizing marijuana for medical use or working toward outright decriminalization for general sale, Wisconsin continues to stay the hard line and recent legislation entrenches this position even further.

The Wisconsin Senate recently passed a bill that would allow local communities to impose even harsher penalties than state law on marijuana crimes in their communities. It gives local government the power to enact ordinances and prosecute second offenses. The idea is to get laws customized to local wants.

Advocates for medical marijuana see it as a huge step backwards, because the legislation acts to preempt, by local statute, future possible decriminalization or lowered penalties at the state level.

One advocate, writing for the Badger Herald, said this:
“George Bernard Shaw once said, "Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything." Progress, in the form of legalizing medical or recreational marijuana, is an inevitability - it is simply a function of time. But unless Walker and the Wisconsin Assembly can change the mind of the members in the Senate and find a way to legalize either medical or recreational marijuana statewide, Wisconsin citizens will find that - at least for the time being - "progress is impossible.”

It has been very difficult for the pro-legalization movement to gain any traction in Wisconsin. Our strongly conservative legislature has been a bulwark against any fundamental change. And we don’t have a mechanism in the state to get legislation passed at the ballot box. No matter how popular legal weed (even for medical use) may be, this combination of factors presents a serious hurdle.

Advocates remain hopeful however. In a few areas, including the city of Madison, penalties for small quantities of marijuana have been reduced and there is a tacit approval. This is a far cry from making it even semi-legal, but it does show that communities are already shaping laws to meet their particular standards.

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