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Northwoods Republican Lawmaker Hopes To Legalize Medical Marijuana


A Northwoods cancer survivor hopes to make medical marijuana legal in Wisconsin.

Rep. Mary Felzkowski (R-Irma) is also a state lawmaker, and this week, she introduced a legalization plan.

“I had asked my oncologist how he felt about medical marijuana.  He basically said, ‘Mary, it’s one more tool in the toolbox.’  It may work for you, it might not work for me, it may work for John, it might not work for Sally.  But for those that it can help, with the conditions that they have, I feel we should let them utilize it,” Felzkowski said.

The plan would create a regulatory commission and require licenses to produce, transport, and sell marijuana.  Eligible patients would be limited to only those with the most serious medical conditions.

“It is probably the most complex piece of legislation I have ever worked on,” Felzkowski said.  “It’s kind of like playing Whac-A-Mole, because when we get something figured out here, it triggers something over there.”

Felzkowski isn’t concerned legal medical marijuana would lead to the legalization of recreational marijuana in the state.

Just nine states have legalized recreational marijuana, and eight of them did it by ballot initiative.

Wisconsin doesn’t allow ballot initiatives.

“The only way that this would ever get to full recreational [marijuana legalization] is if a state legislature passed it.  We have no support for that in our state right now, for full legalization,” Felzkowski said.  “Illinois is the only state where their legislature passed recreational.  Otherwise, it’s been all on ballot initiatives, so I don’t share that concern anymore.”

But the same day as Felzkowski introduced the plan, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, another Republican, indicated it had no chance in the Senate.

Felzkowski’s aims are lower than getting it passed before the next election.

“What my goal is for this session is I would like to have a committee hearing.  If we can have a hearing, we would then be able to start vetting the process.  We could hear from experts, we could see where people are at,” she said.

Voters in Wisconsin overwhelmingly supported referendums to legalize medical marijuana last year.

Those votes were advisory, meaning they had no power of law.

Ben worked as the Special Topics Correspondent at WXPR from September 2019 until November 2021. He now contributes occasionally to WXPR. During his full-time employment, his main focus was reporting on environment and natural resources issues in northern Wisconsin and Michigan's Upper Peninsula as part of The Stream, a weekly series.
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