The recreational use of cannabis is legal in 18 states in the United States, but Wisconsin is not one of them. A new proposal being submitted in the state would not make it legal but would decriminalize a possession charge. During a press conference yesterday, State Rep. Shae Sortwell, R-Gibson, and State Rep. Sylvia Ortiz-Velez, D-Milwaukee, announced their effort to reduce penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana.

A group of about a dozen lawmakers from both party lines has come together to support the proposal as well. Since 2010 over 15,000 people each year have been arrested for marijuana possession putting a massive strain on the legal system in the state.

According to Spectrum News1, this new proposal  contains the following:

  • Under the proposal, the penalty for possession of up to 14 grams of marijuana would be reduced to a $100 civil forfeiture.
  • Enhanced penalties for repeat convictions for possession of 28 grams or less would also be eliminated.
  • The penalty for possessing drug paraphernalia for marijuana consumption would be reduced to a $10 fine instead of a criminal penalty of $500 or 30 days in jail.
  • Limited liability would be offered to employers who don't require new hires or employees to drug test for marijuana/THC.

Sam Santana owns the Wisconsin Growing Company in Milwaukee likes the idea of decriminalization as a starting point. His company deals primarily with hemp products that they sell to manufacturers who turn them into products and oils. Santana says the proposal is a first step to changing the stigma and eventually using cannabis for so much more. “Use it as alternative energy, to clothing, to entertainment. Whatever it is, we can have the benefits that other great industry has like coffee, like alcohol.”

So now the waiting game begins. For advocates of legalizing marijuana, it is a small step forward and for those against it, there are still legal guidelines that will be in place, but not as strict as they are right now.

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