Speaker Robin Vos says he wants the Wisconsin State Assembly to look at legislation that would legalize medical marijuana when the body returns from its summer break in the fall.
The Rochester Republican told reporters June 28 that he has long been open to the concept of legalizing pot for medical purposes but added he first wanted to huddle with his caucus to see where other Assembly Republicans stand on the issue. Republicans stripped Gov. Tony Evers’ medical marijuana and decriminalization plan from the budget before sending their version to the governor.
“I’d certainly love for us to be able to have a discussion that is rational, that takes our time, that we figure out an answer to see if Republicans could actually support it who are skeptics like I am,” Vos said.
He added he would “much rather figure out a way to get to yes” than automatically be a no and said that started by bringing his caucus together.
But Vos quickly nixed the idea of fully legalizing marijuana and slammed Evers’ budget proposal on marijuana. The governor called for the legalization of medical marijuana, but also added a separate provision that would decriminalize possession of up to 25 grams of the drug.
Vos called that proposal “half-handed” and said Evers officials “created more problems than they created opportunities” by linking the two measures in the budget.
“People see medical marijuana as a slippery slope toward recreational, which is why him putting (medical marijuana and decriminalization) together is exactly the fears that almost every single person had to say, this is why we can’t do medical,” Vos said.
He also warned that Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, a long-time skeptic of medical marijuana, would likely not be open to the measure.
In a statement, the Juneau Republican said he believed a measure similar to what Evers proposed “would have a difficult time getting Republican support in the Senate.” But Fitzgerald did not specifically touch on Vos’ call to look at a standalone medical marijuana proposal.
Ultimately, Vos said, his goal was to find a “path to be able to talk about” medical marijuana and try to find “a way that could work here in our state and actually get across the finish line.”
Vos also highlighted the three Speaker’s taskforces dealing with water quality, adoption, and suicide prevention as areas where bipartisan compromise on legislation could be found when lawmakers return later this summer.
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