Wisconsin’s Republican lawmakers may have made clear that Gov. Tony Evers’ plan to legalize marijuana in the next state budget will go up in smoke, but state Sen. Melissa Agard, D-Madison, isn’t backing down.
Agard has pushed the state for years to legalize the drug for both medicinal and recreational purposes, a proposal that garnered little traction under former Gov. Scott Walker and the Republican-controlled Legislature.
Today, though, the dynamic is different. Legalization could generate $166 million in revenue that could help fund rural schools and programs for communities that have been disproportionately affected by past marijuana laws, Evers said when he announced the plan.
Wisconsin is one of just 14 states that has not legalized marijuana in some form. Fifteen states have legalized recreational marijuana over the past few years, including neighboring Illinois and Michigan, and Minnesota lawmakers have introduced a bill that would do the same.
Public support of the idea is also growing in Wisconsin. A 2019 Marquette University Law School poll found 59% of Wisconsin voters backed legalization for recreational purposes, and 83% backed it for medicinal purposes.
Still, Republican leaders of the Legislature’s budget committee wasted little time in shooting down the proposal. Though Sen. Howard Marklein, R-Spring Green, said he believed it was “too big” to be inserted into the state budget, Sen Chris Kapenga, R-Delafield, worried about health effects of the drug on kids who choose to use it.
We rated Kapenga’s claim linking youth marijuana use and psychological disorders True. But Agard jumped in to make another point:
“Youth usage of marijuana has actually gone down in states that have fully legalized,” she tweeted back.
It’s an important claim, because those opposed to legalization often claim that the move will cause a dramatic uptick in teens smoking pot. But is it correct?