Kentucky, Wisconsin Lawmakers Introduce Marijuana Legalization Bills

January 8, 2024 · Green Market Report

Lawmakers in two of the 12 remaining states that have yet to legalize cannabis – Kentucky and Wisconsin – will have the option of approving limited reforms which could turn the tide, but both measures still have a long way to go before becoming law.

In Kentucky, Democratic Rep. Nima Kulkarni put forth a measure that would legalize the possession and consumption of recreational cannabis – including allowing home cultivation – but wouldn’t authorize cultivation or sale by private businesses. In other words, no real industry, Forbes reported.

A few hundred miles north in Wisconsin, Republican lawmakers introduced a restrictive medical marijuana bill that both prohibits smokable cannabis and doesn’t have much room for a commercial industry. The measure calls for just five dispensaries statewide, all of which would be run by the state government instead of entrepreneurs, the Associated Press reported.

Both bills face significant political headwinds, with the Kentucky bill facing an uphill climb due to the GOP control of both legislative chambers, and the Wisconsin bill receiving a muted reception from the Democratic governor who had previously called for full recreational legalization.

The same Kentucky lawmaker running this year’s bill also made a similar attempt last year, Forbes reported.

The Wisconsin bill – while already receiving significant support in the lower House of Representatives – has yet to garner solid Republican support in the Senate, and Gov. Tony Evers’ office equivocated on the bill when asked for comment. And some Wisconsin Republicans aren’t comfortable with the idea of state-run marijuana businesses.

Still, both states are likely to have political pressure ramping up in coming months and years to allow for some type of cannabis industry, as their Midwest neighbors continue approving legalization measures either at the ballot box – as Ohio did last year – or in the legislature – as Minnesota did, also just last year.

Lawmakers in Wisconsin have been lamenting for years now a serious loss in tax revenue as residents drive south to Illinois to purchase cannabis in the Land of Lincoln, and it’s all but certain that plenty of Kentucky residents have been doing the same. (Full Story)

In category:Legalization
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