Governor Tony Evers of Wisconsin included plans to legalize marijuana in his budget plan this year. However, his Badger Bounceback budget is encountering some resistance, especially the proposals on medicinal and recreational cannabis.
In his proposal, Evers suggests that residents of the state who are at least 21 years of age should be allowed to possess up to two oz. of cannabis and also grow up to six cannabis plants for recreational use. The plan indicates that nonresidents of Wisconsin may only carry a maximum of 0.25 oz of cannabis. The proposal also has provisions on reforms to the criminal justice system in respect to the enforcement of marijuana policy.
The governor is also of the view that people who are currently incarcerated for cannabis-related offenses can have their convictions repealed or the sentences reduced, especially for minor crimes. Evers also wants drugs to be regulated in a way that is identical to the mechanism used to regulate alcohol. In his plan, the cannabis industry has the potential to generate at least $165 million for the state in the form of taxes.
Out of that amount, $65.1 million would come from the proposed 15% wholesale tax imposed on growers who sell to processors. A 10% sales tax on retail sales would generate a further $67.1 million while a 5% general tax levy would bring in $33.6 million.
However, not everyone is convinced marijuana legalization is good for the state. Rep. Jesse James is one of the legislators who thinks recreational cannabis shouldn’t be permitted in Wisconsin. He points to the lack of sufficient research on marijuana as a strong factor in his reluctance to endorse policy reform.
Additionally, James says that he is uneasy about changing cannabis law in Wisconsin when the federal government is still opposed to legalizing marijuana. The lawmaker also points out that Colorado, which has had a legal marketplace for cannabis for quite a long time, has recorded cases of criminal activity conducted while the perpetuators were “high” on marijuana. This should be looked into, he says.
However, James’ views do not enjoy the support of all lawmakers in the state. For example, Sen. Jeff Smith from Eau Claire affirms that legalizing medicinal marijuana has benefits that outweigh by far any problems that such a policy change can bring.
Smith points to the opioid crisis currently faced by not just Wisconsin but the entire country. To him, this crisis alone is sufficient for the legalization of medical cannabis to be regarded as an emergency in Wisconsin.
It remains to be seen what consensus will develop around this proposed legislation as the matter goes through the different legislative committees before being voted upon.
As Wisconsin takes its first steps towards passing cannabis reform legislation, states that already have mature legal marijuana markets are seeing different cannabis companies taking major steps forward. For example, California-based Sonoma Biologics Corp. is setting the bar high for the sustainable cultivation of marijuana by using only solar energy at its grow facilities. This approach is likely to be adopted by other growers, and zero-carbon footprint will take on a whole new meaning in the sector.
NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to Sonoma Biologics Corp. are available in the company’s newsroom at https://cnw.fm/Sonoma
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