Wisconsin’s 2021 Senate Bill 545 marks a significant shift in the state’s approach to marijuana laws. The bill amends state law to permit the recreational use of marijuana, a move that contrasts with federal laws which generally prohibit the manufacturing, delivery, or possession of marijuana, applicable to both intrastate and interstate violations.
According to the bill, a Wisconsin resident aged 21 years or older, or a qualifying patient aged 18 years or older, is allowed to possess no more than two ounces of marijuana. Additionally, nonresidents of Wisconsin, who are at least 21 years old, are permitted to possess up to one-quarter ounce of marijuana. However, possessing amounts exceeding these limits remains illegal.
Under the Senate Bill 545, the state’s Controlled Substances Act does not schedule marijuana as a drug. This contrasts with the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA), where marijuana is categorized differently. The bill aligns with certain federal law exemptions, particularly those related to the THC content in parts of the cannabis plant and products derived from it.
Despite these changes, the possession and distribution of marijuana in Wisconsin remain illegal under federal law and the state’s Uniform Controlled Substances Act, Section 961.41 (3g) (e), Wisconsin Statutes. Marijuana is classified as a Schedule I substance, and a first-offense conviction can result in significant fines.
Legalize Opportunity, a campaign led by Melissa Agard, Wisconsin State Senate District 16, argues for the legalization of cannabis. The campaign emphasizes the economic potential and the equity in criminal justice that legalization can bring. It suggests that the most dangerous aspect of cannabis in Wisconsin is its current illegal status.
Furthermore, Wisconsin has also taken steps to address other health concerns, such as tobacco use. The Tobacco 21 initiative by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services aims to reduce tobacco use among young people by raising the minimum age for tobacco sales to 21. This aligns with the understanding that tobacco use is a leading cause of preventable deaths in the U.S.
In summary, while Senate Bill 545 introduces significant changes to the state’s marijuana laws, it’s important to remember that these changes do not affect federal law, and the use, possession, and distribution of marijuana remain a complex legal matter in Wisconsin.