By: Molly Beck
Published: September 15, 2022
MADISON – Democratic incumbent Gov. Tony Evers and his Republican challenger Tim Michels are on opposite sides of whether marijuana should be legal in Wisconsin, a change that a majority of voters want state lawmakers to make.
Evers, who is seeking a second term, is planning to again propose legalizing marijuana in the next state budget if he is re-elected. The plan, which would require users to be 21 to purchase, is estimated to generate $166 million in revenue that Evers wants to use to help fund schools.
Michels, a construction executive, does not support legalizing marijuana — a position mirrored by Republicans who control the state Legislature who have blocked Evers’ marijuana proposals twice already.
A spokeswoman for Michels did not respond to a request for comment, but in recent months, Michels suggested the idea would lead to the legalization of harmful substances.
“I do not support the legalization of marijuana,” Michels said in an interview in May on WTAQ. “I think it’s all a slippery slope. I really do.”
Sixty-nine percent of Wisconsin voters polled in August by the Marquette University Law School said they support legalizing marijuana. Twenty-three percent said they did not want marijuana legalized and 8% said they didn’t have an opinion.
Evers’ officials estimate the plan would generate about $165 million in the fiscal year that starts in the summer of 2024.
Evers or Michels will introduce their state budget proposal in the early months of 2023. Lawmakers will then spend the next few months rewriting it before returning it to the governor for final approval. Wisconsin governors have broad powers to veto portions of the spending plan passed by lawmakers.
The plan Evers wants to put forward is similar to past proposals, which called for marijuana retailers and distributors to obtain permits from the state Department of Revenue. Marijuana producers and processors would also need to get permits from both the Department of Revenue and the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.