A coalition of Wisconsin cannabis law reform groups that has been working to oppose state legislation that would create new ways to punish citizens found to be possessing cannabis is ramping up it’s efforts with an email letter writing campaign to state lawmakers. With the click of a mouse, opponents of SB150/AB164 can send an editable pre-written message to their state senator and assembly representative via the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML).
The legislation is sponsored by Sen. Rick Gudex (R-Fond du Lac) and Rep. Jeremy Thiesfeldt (R-Fond du Lac). The cosponsors are Sen. Joe Leibham (R-Sheboygan) along with four assembly cosponsors; Reps. Stephen Nass (R-Whitewater), Andre Jacque (R-De Pere), Thomas Larson (R-Colfax) and Mark Honadel (R-South Milwaukee).
The bill’s Assembly version, AB 164 received a hearing in the Assembly Committee on Urban and Local Affairs on May 21, 2013 and passed out of committee on June 4 with a party line 5-3 vote with one absent.
SB150 had a hearing and passed out of committee on a paper ballot, with the Senate’s third-ranking Democrat, Sen. Julie Lassa (D- Stevens Point) inexplicably crossing party lines, joining with the committee’s three Republicans, Gudex, Liebham, and Sen. Jerry Petrowski (R- Marathon) in voting to send SB150 to the Senate floor.
Only Sen. Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee), who strongly opposed passage during the bill’s hearing on June 12, voting against.
Representatives from state NORML affiliates and other Wisconsin cannabis law reform groups testified in opposition at both the Assembly and Senate committee hearings. Wisconsin Eye webcast the Senate hearing for SB150 which can be viewed here. At the Senate hearing, representatives from Wisconsin NORML, Is My Medicine Legal YET? and Wisconsin Americans for Safe Access all spoke against. Advocates noted that the legislation seemed to be going the opposite direction from most of the rest of the country.
SB150 is currently listed as “Available for scheduling” as of 6/25/2013. The Wisconsin Legislature is currently in recess but will reconvene in mid-September and later in the fall and it is highly possible these bills will receive floor votes. Opponents are hoping to at least educate state lawmakers that AB164/SB150 are bad bills that run counter to not only the Wisconsin motto, Forward, but also the trend in many states toward legalization of medical use of cannabis and thanks to Colorado and Washington state voters, full legalization of small amounts of cannabis for social aka recreational use.