Photo by Martijn Baudoin on Unsplash
Support for cannabis legalization in the Badger State is growing, according to the Marquette University Law School poll released this week. The poll found that 61% of the respondents favored legalization, with 31% opposed to ending the state prohibition. The survey found majority support among Republicans, with 51%, as well as independents (60%) and Democrats (75%).
Support among all three groups has increased “by 20 or more points” over the last decade since the poll began posing the question of Wisconsin voters, said Charles Franklin, director of Marquette University Law School Poll. The latest survey “is the first time we’ve seen a Republican majority in favor in this poll,” he said at a Milwaukee Press Club event Thursday.
In October 2013, 50% of all voters and 53% of Democrats in the survey supported legalization. Meanwhile 51% of Republican respondents favored keeping cannabis illegal in that survey; that dropped to 42% in the February 2022 poll. Among independents, support for legalized cannabis rose from 49% in 2013 and peaked at 68% in 2019 before declining to the current 60%. .
Franklin said support increases even more when the questions are phrased to focus on medicinal cannabis legalization, support goes up even more. What’s more, framing the question differently, such as asking whether cannabis should be regulated like alcohol, doesn’t seem to affect the responses from Wisconsinites.
Despite the majority support, movement to legalize cannabis in the legislature is non-existent. Wisconsin Republican elected officials have rejected attempts to legalize recreational use of cannabis. Some representatives, however, have introduced bills to either legalize forms of medical cannabis, or lower existing penalties for possession. Some activists pushing for reform have opted to organize for local penalties to be lowered or abolished, rather than expending energy at the state-level. The most recent bill discussed in the legislature related to cannabis involved raising penalties for possession of cannabis extracts made using butane.
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