Wisconsin governor who called for marijuana legalization says he’ll back limited GOP proposal

MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers, who has pushed for full legalization of recreational marijuana, said Wednesday that he is open to a more limited medical marijuana legalization being promoted by Republicans.

“I would think that getting it all done in one fell swoop would be more thoughtful as far as meeting the needs of Wisconsinites that have asked for it,” the Democrat said in an interview with The Associated Press. “But if that’s what we can accomplish right now, I’ll be supportive of that.”

Republicans have been working behind closed doors for years on a medical marijuana bill and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said in December that they would unveil it this month. Republicans have repeatedly rejected calls from Evers and other Democrats to legalize all uses of marijuana, including medical and recreational.

Vos said the proposal would be limited and modeled after the medical marijuana law that had been in place in neighboring Minnesota before it moved to full legalization.

“I’m glad that the governor is open to supporting our proposal,” Vos said Friday. “But if he keeps saying it’s only a precursor to recreational marijuana, it will kill this proposal.”

Republican state Sen. Mary Felzkowski, who introduced a medical marijuana bill that got its first hearing in the Legislature in 2022, said she too was glad Evers was open to the idea. Felzkowski said she is not involved with the Assembly’s latest proposal.

Evers said he was open to a limited medical marijuana program but that he had not yet seen the Republican bill.

Wisconsin remains an outlier nationally. Thirty-eight states have legalized medical marijuana and 24 have legalized recreational marijuana. The push for legalization in Wisconsin has gained momentum as its neighbors have loosened laws.

Marquette University Law School polls have shown large majority support among Wisconsin residents for legalizing marijuana use for years.