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Referendum on legalizing weed passes Milwaukee County Committee

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Milwaukee County supervisor John Weishan wants to ask Milwaukee voters if they want legal marijuana.

The proposal would ask Milwaukee county voters if they approve personal use of marijuana for anyone 21 or older, as well as if they think pot should be commercially regulated - and taxed. It passed a county committee on Thursday.

"It's time that the state of Wisconsin got with the 21st century."

Jim Naumann promotes the Wisconsin Hemp Conference and says legalizing pot would be a huge economic driver for the state.

"Anywhere between 10,000-20,000 jobs can be generated in Wisconsin in the first 2-5 years of legalization."

The state legislature has authority to make the decision, and state leaders have been against it. Some say legal marijuana increases crime. Several at the hearing argued minorities are punished more for marijuana crimes.

"If we legalize at least there will be the same non-penalty, and people won't face deportation for having a joint in their pocket. I think that's incredibly important."

Nobody at the hearing spoke against the idea. Weishan says even if they don't have the power to change the law, Milwaukee voters deserve a say.

"There are so many facets to this. The biases in the criminal justice system. The health issues about the medical marijuana use. All of these come together and make this quite an unusual topic, and that's why it's important that that be put in front of the voters."

The proposal now goes to the full county board.

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