Source: April 17 2014

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker signed two cannabis-related bills into law over the past week, including a very limited medical marijuana bill and a bill that authorizes municipalities to file charges in pot cases rejected by local district attorneys. While the medical marijuana bill received tremendous support across the board, the second bill prompted outrage among many cannabis activists.

The very conservative medical marijuana bill, AB726, provides that federal agencies approve any dispensation of CBD hemp oil medical marijuana preparation. These measures would likely require physicians to apply for an investigational drug permit before allowing patients to use CBD derivatives. Currently, the federal government still classifies it as a Schedule 1 Controlled Substance.

The second bill governing prosecutions, SB150, enables local government units or counties to enact and enforce an ordinance to prohibit the possession of any amount of marijuana and prosecute a person for a second or subsequent offense of possessing marijuana or a synthetic cannabinoid. At the hearing, bill sponsors and GOP members were reportedly openly hostile to reform activists opposing the bill.

The bill signings represented a disappointing end to a session with a record number of cannabis bills. While none of the other more liberal bills made it out of the committee, the bills’ sponsors intend on bringing them back to the debate during the 2015-2016 session. Many cannabis activists promise to continue building support for legalization on a broader level given the many potential benefits.

In the end, the approval of even a small step towards legalization of medical marijuana should be considered a step forward for a conservative state like Wisconsin. The continued liberalization of cannabis laws in other states, as well as potential actions on a federal level, could further ease these laws in the 2015-2016 session and ultimately further open the door to at least medical treatment.

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