As one Wisconsin state lawmaker plans to host a public hearing April 20 on a medical cannabis bill she authored, another lawmaker is warning legalization advocates not to get their hopes up.
Sen. Mary Felzkowski, R-Tomahawk, announced April 11 that Wisconsinites who have an interest in medical cannabis legalization will be able to share their views on legislation she sponsors during a committee hearing later this month, WisPolitics.com reported.
Felzkowski’s bill, also sponsored by Rep. Patrick Snyder, R-Schofield, intends to legalize and create the framework for medical cannabis use by those in the state who have any of eight qualifying conditions: amyotrophic later sclerosis, cancer, Crohn’s disease, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis, post-traumatic stress disorder, and seizure disorders.
In addition, other qualifying conditions could be added by unanimous approval of a Medical Marijuana Regulation Commission, housed under the Department of Revenue, created under the bill.
“I am excited for the opportunity to facilitate this discussion,” Felzkowski said in press release Monday, announcing the April 20 public hearing to be held by the Insurance, Licensing and Forestry Committee, which she chairs.
“I want to encourage every Wisconsinite who has an interest in this to come engage in the process, share your perspective, and learn about the bill,” she said. “Whether you think the bill goes too far, or not far enough, what’s important is that we all come together to have an open, honest and respectful discussion about moving this idea forward.”
But one of Felzkowski’s colleagues, Sen. Melissa Agard, D-Madison, views the upcoming hearing as a “cynical political ploy” that gives people false hope because Wisconsin’s 2021-2022 Legislature adjourned last month.
“Despite having 15 months to work on cannabis reform, Republicans chose to schedule a public hearing on a medical marijuana bill after the legislative session has already adjourned,” Agard said on social media. She added, “I have been earnestly working for full cannabis legalization for adult responsible use for over nine years. It’s time to stop with the political games and get this done in a bipartisan manner.”
In addition to the qualifying conditions, Felzkowski’s medical cannabis proposal aims to levy a 10% state excise tax on wholesale cannabis. Patients and caregivers would not be subject to taxes on commercial sales at a dispensary.
The bill would also prohibit home grows and limit the access of medical cannabis to the forms of liquids, oils, pills, tinctures and topicals.
The number of retail licenses would be limited to three to 10 per county, based on population.
“A large part of my policy focus this session has been health care access,” Felzkowski said in a January press release announcing her legislation.
“To me, a conversation on health care access leads directly to a conversation about medical marijuana,” she said. “This is a matter of permitting an available, recognized pain alleviation tool to be used by Wisconsinites who are undergoing grueling medical treatments, facing daily chronic suffering, or struggling with the debilitating effects of PTSD. This bill lays out the framework for a well-regulated industry that empowers health care providers and patients, all while keeping public safety at the forefront.”
Wisconsin is one of 13 states where the commercial sale of medical cannabis has yet to be legalized. But Felzkowski’s proposed legislation won’t change that status until at least 2023, when the Legislature returns to session.
In the meantime, those who wish to share their perspectives on the proposal can do so at 10 a.m. April 20 in Room 412 East of the Capitol in Madison.
When asked if the 4/20 date for that hearing was intentional, Felzkowski indicated it was not, The Associated Press reported.
“Must be a coincidence, because I don’t understand the question,” she said, adding it was the date when other members of the committee were available to meet.