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GOP Senator Says There’s ‘No Appetite’ For Medical Marijuana Bill In Wisconsin Senate: ‘State-Owned Dispensaries Are A Mistake’

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A leading Republican advocate of medical marijuana in Wisconsin is pessimistic about a cannabis bill passing this legislative season. 

What happened: Sen. Mary Felzkowski (R), who’s been known for her effort on medical marijuana reform said that there’s “no appetite” in the Senate to advance a recently introduced cannabis bill. “I don’t see anything happening [with the bill] this session,” Felzkowski told CBS 58. “I’m hoping that over the summer we can talk with our Assembly colleagues and hopefully come up with something that’s a compromise and then truly get this done once and for all for Wisconsin.”

Felzkowski added that while she thinks that as much as 80% of the bill is great, she and most of her colleagues don’t support creating state-run dispensaries instead of private entities

“I took the [bill] to my caucus and they don’t like the state-owned dispensaries. We feel that’s a mistake,” Felzkowski said. 

Why it matters: The Senator said that it would be “futile” to come up with an amendment to the bill, considering a recent announcement from Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R), who said he is not planning to compromise with state Senate Republicans on a medical marijuana legalization proposal. 

“Taking and renegotiating the bill means we probably lose votes in our caucus,” Vos said last week. “So I’d rather get us through to keep the promise we made, which is to have a comprehensive bill that can actually become law as opposed to an ethereal idea that maybe somebody could support someday but it never actually makes it anywhere.”

While Vos was previously confident about the measure passing this February, without the Senate’s support, the approval is in question. 

A long-time cannabis advocate, State Senator Melissa Agard (D) also slammed the bill. “I am thoroughly reviewing every provision of this bill because the devil truly is in the details. This is a serious matter the legislature will be taking up in the coming weeks.” Agard added that the GOP-backed legislation is “overly restrictive” and “does not move our state in the right direction.”

Governor Tony Evers (D) and the Democrats have long advocated full marijuana legalization. Evers expressed openness to a Republican-backed proposal for limited medical marijuana legalization recently, but after the proposal was introduced he showed no indication of whether he supported or opposed it.

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What’s in the bill? The medical marijuana legislation in question, oftentimes described as a very restrictive measure, would limit access to non-smokable forms for severe illnesses. 

With all of its neighboring states already having advanced cannabis reform, the Badger State remains the only one in its area still enforcing prohibition. While Iowa legalized medical use, Michigan, Illinois and Minnesota have legalized adult use cannabis.

What’s next: While chances seem slim at the moment, the voting is yet to happen. However, when asked if she would be preparing some legislation for the next session, Felzkowski said, “We will have something ready for next time.”

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