On May 30, 2017, a Republican state legislator joined a group of three democrats to introduce a Wisconsin marijuana decriminalization bill, but admitted that the bill’s passing would be unlikely.
According to The Journal Times, Rep. Adam Jarchow introduced the bill, which would reduce the penalties for possessing up to 10 grams of marijuana to a public violation and a $100 fine, at a press conference on May 30. The law currently states that possession of any amount will be ruled a misdemeanor with up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
“For me this bill has been a little bit of journey,” Jarchow said. Though he explained that he represents a fairly conservative district, it was the voters of his district who encouraged him to take on the task of reevaluating how Wisconsin deals with marijuana, as reported by FOX6.
“What we propose here today is what I think is a common-sense solution to a difficult issue,” Jarchow said. “And that is to not legalize but to decriminalize.”
The bill, which is also supported by Sen. Fred Risser and Reps. Evan Goyke and Jonathan Brostoff, would save Wisconsin a considerable amount of money. According to the Journal Sentinel, the state jailed 80 people in 2016 on the grounds of possession, with each inmate costing the state $32,000.
The lawmakers are hoping that cost savings will garner voter support for their bill; however, the bill will have to face the Republican-controlled legislature.
“I’m not naive to think that we are going to probably pass this and get it signed into law,” Jarchow said.
While the lawmakers don’t expect their Wisconsin marijuana decriminalization bill to pass, they do expect it to create a bipartisan dialogue on the issue.