Legal marijuana advocates push forward on yet another bill

NOW: Legal marijuana advocates push forward on yet another bill

WAUWATOSA, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Wisconsin advocates are continuing to urge Republican leadership at the statehouse to move forward on a legalization bill.

On Wednesday, State Senator Melissa Agard took her "Grass Routes" tour to Wauwatosa to drum up support for her latest legalization bill.

With Minnesota recently moving towards legalized marijuana, Agard calls Wisconsin an "island of prohibition", losing tax revenue and industry jobs to neighboring states.

She says not only does the public overwhelmingly support legalization, but business owners want regulation to ensure sales would be safe.

Milwaukee-area cannabis business owners say it's far past time for Wisconsin to legalize marijuana, but they also want rules and regulations to keep the industry safe.

Erin Kelly is the owner of Kelly's Greens, a CBD bake shop. She said, "There are a lot of bad products out on the market. Regulation would certainly allow consumers that have fewer choices that store owners stand behind."

Agard's town hall tour is designed to spark conversations and push the state closer to legalization. She told us, "Prohibition of cannabis in Wisconsin is preventing economic stimulus, it's preventing increased safety and security, and it's infringing on people's liberties."

More than 50% of Wisconsin adults live within 75 minutes of a legal dispensary. Agard said their money is going to other states. A March report showed Wisconsinites paid more than $36.1 million in marijuana sales taxes in Illinois last year.

But Agard openly admits legalization is an ongoing conversation, and many people have voiced questions and concerns throughout the process.

At the town hall, one woman worried, "It handles your brain very differently than alcohol. So, I really just want this away from our kids."

Agard has pushed for some form of legalization for 10 years, but says Republican leadership is preventing the latest bill from getting a hearing.

In Kenosha, some city leaders are not waiting.

David Mau, the 8th District Alderperson, said, "We know they've been deliberating over it for many, many years. If they're not going to do something, let's do what we can do."

A new ordinance in Kenosha would reduce fines for low-level marijuana offenses to just $1, plus court costs. It passed out of committee this week and will soon get a vote in front of the full council.

7th District Alderperson Kelly MacKay said, "This, to us, just sends a strong signal to the state that we need to move toward legalization."

In the meantime, Senator Agard's "Grass Routes" tour continues, while she says Wisconsin loses out. "We are losing out on hundreds of millions of dollars of tax revenue, and billions of dollars of economic stimulus, because we are not engaging in the conversation."

We reached out to the offices for both Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Senate President Devin LeMahieu for comment on the legalization bill, but neither responded.

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