Senate GOP Moves Closer to Supporting Medical Marijuana, According to Leader Devin LeMahieu

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The shift in support for medical marijuana among Wisconsin’s Republican lawmakers is a welcome and long-overdue development. For years, Democrats have been advocating for the legalization of marijuana for both medical and recreational purposes, citing its numerous potential benefits. These include reducing the reliance on highly addictive prescription opioids for pain management, generating revenue for the state through taxation, and creating new job opportunities in the emerging cannabis industry.

Despite this, previous efforts to legalize marijuana in Wisconsin have been met with resistance from Republican lawmakers. However, it appears that the tide may be turning, with Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu now expressing support for medical marijuana. LeMahieu has previously opposed the idea, but has stated that he believes a medical marijuana program in the state could be passed during the current legislative session as long as it is regulated and only used for serious pain such as cancer-related pain.

This marks the first time that a leader of the Senate Republicans has expressed support for such legislation, and it is a hopeful sign that the party may be open to more progressive cannabis policies in the future. However, it is important to note that LeMahieu has stipulated that the program must be carefully regulated to prevent abuse by those seeking relief for minor aches and pains. While this is a reasonable concern, it is also important to recognize that marijuana has been shown to be an effective treatment for a wide range of conditions, including chronic pain, epilepsy, and multiple sclerosis.

In addition to the support of Senate Majority Leader LeMahieu, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos has also previously shown support for the legalization of medical marijuana. A spokeswoman for Vos did not immediately respond to a question about whether Assembly Republicans are also supportive of the idea, but LeMahieu indicated that he believes they “could be.” This is encouraging news, as the support of both parties will be necessary to pass any marijuana legislation in the state.

Governor Tony Evers is also expected to propose the legalization of marijuana in the state budget that will soon be negotiated and written by lawmakers. The plan, which would require users to be 21 or older to purchase marijuana, is estimated to generate $166 million in revenue that Evers intends to use to fund schools. This is a smart and practical approach to marijuana legalization, as it recognizes the potential benefits of the cannabis industry while also taking steps to ensure that it is regulated and controlled in a responsible manner.

It is clear that the majority of Wisconsinites support the legalization of marijuana in some form, with 64% supporting legalization for any use according to October polling by the Marquette University Law School, and over 80% supporting the idea of a medical marijuana program according to 2019 polling. It is time for lawmakers to listen to the will of the people and move forward with marijuana legalization in the state. While the details of any potential legislation will need to be carefully considered and debated, the support of key Republican lawmakers is a hopeful sign that progress is possible.

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