Lawmakers split on whether referendum results will influence marijuana legislation

File photo (Pixabay)

BROWN COUNTY (WLUK) -- Voters in 16 counties and two cities across Wisconsin will have some sort of marijuana legalization question on their November ballots.

Posed as advisory referendum questions, none of the marijuana-related votes can change any laws, but the results may get state lawmakers talking about the possibility.

While some form of medical marijuana is legal in the states bordering Wisconsin, it's still illegal here.

“That is a conversation the entire nation has been having,” said Tom Sieber, a Brown County Supervisor, who is also running as a Democrat in the 88th Assembly District race. “The state has not had that conversation.”

As a county supervisor, Sieber is part of the reason Brown County voters will be asked whether they support medical marijuana legalization.

Sieber says the results should help guide the discussion among lawmakers.

“Going into it, we listened to the people and the constituents,” said Sieber. “There is a clear need for medical marijuana. All the surrounding states have medical marijuana and recreational I'd love to get the sense of the voters and find out where they're at.”

FOX 11 tried interviewing the man Sieber is trying to unseat, Republican State Rep. John Macco. However, Macco declined our interview request, saying he did not want to talk about a non-binding referendum.

In the first debate in the race for governor, one of the panelists mentioned the marijuana referendum questions when asking the candidates if they would support any degree of legalization.

“I'm willing to take a look at the results of these referenda and possibly support legalization,” said Tony Evers, the Democratic candidate for governor.

“For years I've listened to public health officials and law enforcement officials, even here in Dane County, who've pleaded with us not to legalize marijuana because they're concerned it's a gateway drug,” said Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse acknowledges some research supports marijuana as a gateway drug. However, it also says a majority of marijuana users do not go on to use harder substances.

In August, 61 percent of people who participated in a Marquette Law School poll said they support marijuana legalization, regulated the same as alcohol. 36 percent opposed marijuana legalization.

Election Day is November 6th.

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