Friday, June 15, 2018

County voters may see marijuana ballot question

Screenshot from Oshkosh Community Media
The Winnebago County Board of Supervisors will meet Tuesday to consider adding an advisory question on marijuana legalization and related issues to the November ballot.

By Miles Maguire

Winnebago County voters would get a chance to weigh in on whether to decriminalize marijuana under a proposal that is scheduled to come before the Board of Supervisors next week.

“This is a very important issue that needs to be addressed more, which is why I authored the resolution,” said Supervisor Aaron Wojciechowski. He represents District 16, which encompasses the campus of UW Oshkosh and nearby streets.

He was joined by five other members of 36-person board in sponsoring the resolution: Mike Norton, District 20; Andy Buck, District 24; Tom Snider, District 35; Steve Lenz, District 7; and Julie Gordon, District 17.

Their proposal would put the following advisory question on the ballot for the Nov. 6 election this year:

Question: Should the Wisconsin State Legislature enact proposed legislation that allows individuals 21 years of age and older to engage in the medical and recreational use of marijuana, while also regulating commercial marijuana-related activities including, but not limited to, imposing a tax on the sale of marijuana, and expunging marijuana-related crimes for those convicted in Wisconsin?

Milwaukee County has already decided to put the issue before voters this fall, and several other communities around the state are considering similar action.

“The impact of this could be big,” Wojciechowski said.  “It will send an important message to Gov. Walker, the legislature and others around the state.”

Wojciechowski is optimistic about the chances of getting the ballot question approved. “The point we're trying to make is regardless of personal opinions, everyone should vote ‘yes’ to give the public the opportunity to vote their opinion on this important policy issue,” he said.

“Public opinion has moved faster than legislative response on the question of cannabis legalization,” said Mark Kelderman, an advocate for decriminalizing marijuana who was active in the effort to get the Oshkosh Common Council to reduce the penalty for first-time possession.

As part of that effort Kelderman gathered thousands of signatures from Oshkosh residents in support of  changing the law.

“President Trump recently said he would support bipartisan legislation for cannabis reform, and pressure from local groups such as ‘Decriminalize Oshkosh’ and “Legal me up!’ are forcing politicans to acknowledge public opinion favoring access to legal marijuana,” Kelderman said. “In the interest of public safety it is time to change the laws or to change the people making them.”

The board will meet Tuesday at 6 p.m. in the county courthouse.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the coverage of an issue so important to the public.