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New Bipartisan Wisconsin Bill Would Decriminalize Marijuana Possession

Bipartisan Wisconsin lawmakers will soon be introducing a bill to decriminalize low-level marijuana possession—an incremental reform that they hope will break the logjam on cannabis policy in the GOP-controlled legislature.

As other legislators push for broader adult-use legalization, Reps. Shae Sortwell (R) and Sylvia Ortiz-Velez (D), along with Sen. Lena Taylor (D), are sponsoring the simple decriminalization legislation, which would also give employers more discretion in workplace cannabis testing policies.

The bill would make possession of up to 14 grams of cannabis punishable by a $100 civil forfeiture, without the threat of jail time. It would also stop courts from “counting” possession convictions involving up to 28 grams, meaning people would not be charged as repeat offenders who could face more serious penalties.

“For small, simple possessions of marijuana, Wisconsin should not be throwing people in prison,” the sponsors said in a cosponsorship memo, first reported by the Wisconsin State Journal, late last week. They pointed out that the state makes an average of 15,485 arrests per year over the minor offense, which is currently punishable by a maximum $1,000 fine and up to six months in jail.

“North Dakota, New Hampshire, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, and Nebraska have

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