Over the holidays, Wisconsin made cannabis history! In his first 3 years in office, Governor Tony Evers has granted nearly 400 pardons, with the majority being non-violent substance offenses. A good number of those pardons are non-violent cannabis offenses. As it stands, Evers has now pardoned more people than any other governor. While pardons don’t seal or expunge records, they grant some rights back to those who were charged. Regardless, the effort to remedy what the War on Drugs has done is helping his state.
Some speculate his efforts are to destigmatize cannabis after his introduction of a recreational cannabis bill last year. It’s an ambitious attempt considering the state has not legalized medical cannabis and has heavy Republican state legislation. Back in 2018, the state was majority in favor of medical and recreational cannabis. In the same year, he proposed legalizing medical cannabis and decriminalizing recreational cannabis. Unfortunately, the bid was blocked.
“Legalizing and taxing marijuana in Wisconsin — just like we do already with alcohol — ensures a controlled market and safe product are available for both recreational and medicinal users and can open the door for countless opportunities for us to reinvest in our communities and create a more equitable state.”–Evers said in a statement
Other sources claim he is using his pardon power to ease the state into a successful cannabis bid. Considering his pardons are for level crimes and non-violent cannabis offenses, they might be right.
“After years and years of the pardon board sitting dormant, there are lots of people out there looking for their second chance.”
More recently, state legislators proposed another bill to decriminalize small amounts of cannabis. At the moment, possession of small amounts can lead to a $1000 fine as well as incarceration for six months. Repeat offenders or large amounts could be subject to a $10,000 fine and up to three years in prison. Under the new bill, 14 grams or less would now be no less than a $100 fine or no more than $250. Additionally, up to 40 hours of community service could be ordered. Anything over 14 grams is subject to the original law.
The Republican Assembly speaker has made a harsh stance against cannabis but it hasn’t deterred the governor. We’ll keep you updated on Evers’ pardon count as well as cannabis legalization in Wisconsin.