Wis. (WLAX/WEUX) – In a Sunday morning announcement, Governor Tony Evers proposes legalizing marijuana in the badger state. First News at Nine’s Phoebe Murray shares reaction from proponents of the legislature in why they say this could be a step in the right direction.

Wisconsin is among a minority of states that have not legalized marijuana use in some form.
Despite recent state polling out of Marquette University, showing more than half surveyed support it.

Andrew Hysell, Wisconsin Cannabis Association Representative said, “If it was five years ago it would make sense to say hey let’s start with medicinal but since we’re seeing what we’re seeing in other states and we’re now even seeing movement at the federal level it just doesn’t make sense to waste any more time.”

Thirty-six states have medical marijuana programs.  Fifteen states have legalized recreational marijuana in recent years including Illinois and Michigan.

Hysell says it’s important Governor Evers’ proposal includes a social justice component with any efforts to legalize the drug.

“African Americans are arrested for possession at a rate of four times that of white despite roughly equivalent use,” said Hysell.

A jarring statistic that resonates with ACIU Advocacy Director Molly Collins.

 “Almost every county in Wisconsin has a rate higher than the national average of racial disparities in marijuana enforcement,” said Collins.

The plan would regulate and tax marijuana sales like alcohol.

under Evers’ proposal, buyers would have to be 21 or older to purchase the drug for recreational purposes and 18 or older for medical use. Wisconsin residents could possess at most 2 ounces and six plants for personal use.

Wonders of Nature owner, Chris Buske says he’s optimistic.

“The regulations would allow more ma and pa stores like me, small family farms to get into the business and give it a greater access to the public and start to see that it’s not this big scary thing, that it isn’t a gateway drug in that it can be used responsibly by the public.”

Evers says the recreational marijuana measure could generate $166 million in revenue that would be used to help fund rural schools and programs for marginalized communities.

Phoebe Murray, First News at Nine.

We reached out to representatives from both sides of the aisle and did not hear back, coverage on the legislation will continue, as Evers is set to introduce his budget on February 16.