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Republicans don't back legalization of marijuana, Wisconsin majority leader says

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Posted at 8:47 PM, Apr 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-16 15:19:50-04

The Wisconsin Senate’s new majority leader, Devin LeMahieu, says Republicans in the state legislature won't support the legalization of marijuana anytime soon.

In an interview with WisPolitics Thursday, LeMahieu said his Republican caucus does not support legalizing marijuana for either medicinal or recreational purposes.

Instead, LeMahieu said discussions regarding legalization should happen on the federal level, not in “some rogue state without actual science behind it,” LeMahieu said, according to the Associated Press. For the majority leader, Wisconsin should wait until the U.S. Food and Drug Administration takes cannabis off the list of Schedule I drugs.

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The view is in opposition to a proposal from Gov. Tony Evers, who included legalization in his next two-year budget. The proposal estimates legalization would generate more than $165 million each year in Wisconsin. That includes $70 million for rural schools, communities of color and communities disproportionately affected by law enforcement regarding marijuana.

Legalization does have some support in Wisconsin. A 2019 Marquette Law School poll found 59 percent of respondents said marijuana should be legal, while 36 percent said it should not be. A further 83 percent said the use of marijuana for medical purposes with a doctor’s prescription should be legal, while 12 percent saying it should not be.

Wisconsin's neighbors, Illinois and Michigan, have legalized recreational marijuana, while Minnesota legalized medical marijuana.

Most Democrats in the Senate support legalization either medically or recreationally, but Republicans control the body 21-12.

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