Medical Marijuana Legalization Receives First Public Hearing | health and fitness

MADISON, Wisconsin (AP) — A Republican-authored bill legalizing medical marijuana in Wisconsin will have its first public hearing next week, in a bid to meet a goal of supporters and to be the latest sign of progress for those supporting the laws of the state want to relax.

The bill will not go into effect this year because the legislature has adjourned and won’t go into effect again until 2023. But the April 20 Senate committee hearing on the medical marijuana bill will give proponents their highest chance to lobby for relaxation of Wisconsin’s marijuana laws.

Thirty-seven states have legalized medical marijuana and 18 have fully legalized it, including Illinois and Michigan. Wisconsin’s other two neighbors, Iowa and Minnesota, allow medical marijuana.

“I would encourage any Wisconsinite who is interested to participate in the process, share their perspective, and learn more about the bill,” the measure’s sponsor, Republican Sen. Mary Felzkowski of Tomahawk, said in a statement on Monday announcement the hearing.

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“Whether you think the bill goes too far or not far enough, what’s important is that we all come together to have an open, honest and respectful discussion about how to move this idea forward,” she said.

Felzkowski also chairs the Senate Committee on Insurance, Licensing and Forestry, which will host the hearing. The largest hearing room in the legislature was reserved for the hearing.

Democratic Sen. Melissa Agard, the main proponent of full legalization, said a hearing on the bill after the legislature adjourned would be “a cynical political ploy that gives people false hope about the prospects of this legislation.”

Agard said she was encouraged that people would have an opportunity to testify, but was disappointed that it didn’t happen during the legislature’s session.

“Unfortunately, Republicans only talk when it comes to the legalization effort in Wisconsin,” she said.

At that Wisconsin session, there were bills by Democrats and Republicans that would legalize medical marijuana, Democrats that would legalize it for recreational use, and a bipartisan measure that would decriminalize marijuana possession.

All of those measures died when the Republican-controlled Legislature adjourned its February session.

But next week’s hearing will draw new attention to the issue and perhaps provide impetus for the next session. House Speaker Robin Vos has expressed support for medical marijuana, while Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu said legalization is a federal matter.

Felzkowski introduced the same medical marijuana bill in the last session, but it died without a hearing.

She said the proposal was drafted in limited ways — for example, it would not allow smoking medical marijuana — to garner support from Republican lawmakers. The Democrats’ medical marijuana law would have legalized smoking.

“Medicine is never one size fits all, and it’s time for Wisconsin to start the conversation about adding this additional option that can help patients find the relief they need,” Felzkowski said.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, transcribed or redistributed without permission.

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