marijuana

LaToya Dennis

Have you ever heard the saying “everything old is new again?” When it comes to the hemp industry in Wisconsin, that old saying is holding true.

Just ask former Milwaukee Alderman Mike McGee Junior and his business partner Maya Mays. They opened their first kiosk selling hemp-based products at Mayfair Mall back in July. Since then, they kiosk has turned into a store and they’ve added three others: 414 Hemp, 262 Hemp, 920 Hemp and 608 Hemp.

Maayan Silver

When Milwaukee County voters go to the polls this fall, they might see a question about pot. A proposed referendum would gauge how voters stand on the topics of marijuana legalization, taxation, and regulation.

The Milwaukee County Board's Judiciary, Safety and General Services Committee approved adding the following advisory referendum to the November ballot on Thursday:

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An analysis of felony second offense marijuana possession in Milwaukee County has found a troubling pattern. Of the 95 stops where no other crime was being committed, 86% of the people arrested were African-American.

The number is startling in a county where African-Americans makeup only 25% of the population, and the circumstances of some of the arrests seemed questionable.

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Some Democratic lawmakers are renewing a push to legalize medical marijuana. They say the move could keep people from using -- and perhaps becoming hooked on -- opioid painkillers. The fate of the proposal is uncertain, though, as long as Republicans control the Legislature.

Democratic state lawmakers trying to gain support to legalize medical marijuana held hearings in five cities this fall. Senator Jon Erpenbach and Representative Chris Taylor wanted to give the public a chance to share their thoughts about the proposal.

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Marijuana is a hot topic again in the Wisconsin Legislature. A couple Republican state Senators said Thursday they’ll introduce a bill to legalize possession of CBD oil, a marijuana extract used to treat seizures. At the same time, some Democrats want to legalize marijuana for medical and recreational purposes. Only one proposal seems likely to move forward.

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As the fine for possessing small amounts of marijuana has dropped in Milwaukee, so to has the number of citations for it.

Over the past few months, the Public Policy Forum has been examining how the city's marijuana laws are enforced, in an effort to understand what they are accomplishing.

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Update: Members of the Menominee Nation of northern Wisconsin have voted yes to allowing both recreational and medicinal use of marijuana on their reservation near Shawano.

Tribal leaders announced results of the vote on Friday. The referendums are advisory only, but leaders had indicated they would move forward with drafting an ordinance to allow growing and selling marijuana on tribal land.

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Tuesday's 10-3 vote would reduce the maximum fine from $500 to $50 for possessing 25 grams of marijuana or less in the City of Milwaukee.

Supporters of the reduction, including members of the African American Roundtable, say it will help address a racial injustice because blacks in Milwaukee are five times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana possession, despite similar usage rates.

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Members of a Milwaukee Common Council committee took up a proposal Thursday that could reduce the penalties for first-time offenses for possession of small amounts of marijuana. Advocates say reforms are needed to address disparities in how marijuana laws are enforced and their impact on offenders.

"When you look at the percentage of the population that is African-American versus the percentage of offenders who are actually being picked up by police in Milwaukee and prosecuted, there is a disparity there," says Public Policy Forum president Rob Henken.

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It appeared on Tuesday that Milwaukee’s Common Council would reduce the fine for marijuana possession.

Currently, the fine for possessing up to 25 grams is from $250 to $500. Ald. Nik Kovac wants to lower the penalty to from $0 to $50.

Kovac says the fine is unfair to black residents.

“Out of about 1,500 tickets last year, 1,250 were issued to African Americans, in a city that has approximately the same number of African Americans as whites,” Kovac says.

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States across the country have been easing marijuana laws.

http://thinkprogress.org

A report last year by the American Civil Liberties Union tried to shed light on how the nation’s marijuana laws were being enforced differently, depending on demographic group.

That report came amid a changing climate in many parts of the country regarding the legalization or decriminalization of marijuana.

In Wisconsin, the Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service examined disparities in marijuana law enforcement in the state’s major population centers.

Wisconsin to Get Tougher on Pot Possession

Jan 21, 2014
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Nearly half of America’s states have eased up on the use of marijuana, but Wisconsin is moving toward further criminalization of the drug.

Advocates of legalized medical marijuana are planning to approach Wisconsin legislators on Wednesday, to urge them to pass a bill allowing patients to use the drug to allay physical discomforts.

According to the Wisconsin State Journal, Democratic Rep. Chris Taylor of Madison intends to sponsor such legislation, taking over from predecessor, now Congressman Mark Pocan.

Supporters of legalization are calling their planned efforts for Wednesday, Medical Cannabis Lobby Day.