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Wisconsin’s Restrictive Medical Cannabis Bill Put on Ice Until Next Session

Optimism that Wisconsin could soon roll out a medical cannabis framework has been squashed after the Assembly Speaker confirmed no hearing will take place before the Assembly adjourns next week.

As Business of Cannabis reported last month, Wisconsin’s Assembly Republicans announced plans to put forward a medical cannabis legalization bill in this legislative period, but stipulated that it would be one of the ‘most restrictive’ in the US.

In late December, Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said that he planned to put forward a bill to establish a medical cannabis programme akin to Minnesota’s, which allows access to medical cannabis for those suffering from conditions like HIV, cancer, and PTSD.

However, Vos told a news conference yesterday that while there will still be a public hearing to drum up support, it won’t be until after the session has adjourned for the year, putting the controversial bill on ice for the foreseeable future.

He said that he would no longer be willing to call a floor vote for a bill to legalize medical cannabis, despite believing he has the votes to pass the bill in his chamber, due to opposition from both sides.

“We see that the Senate wants to have a more liberal version than the one that we’re willing to pass,” Vos said.

“Unfortunately, people from the very beginning have said that they have concerns that this will lead to widespread recreational marijuana.

“And many of my colleagues on the other side continue to say that that is their goal, which, of course, that’s their right.”

While the Assembly session is due to adjourn next week, there is a possibility that the state’s ‘full-time’ legislators could move the bill forward outside of this timeframe, but with no compromise on the bill’s scope in sight, this remains unlikely.

Under the proposed framework, no smokable forms of cannabis would be allowed, meaning only oils, tinctures, pills, gels, patches, and formulations delivered via a nebulizer would be made available for patients.

Furthermore, medical cannabis sales would only be permitted at five state-run dispensaries, which will be determined by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services and located across five distinct regions of the state.

Availability would also be limited to those diagnosed with cancer, HIV/AIDS, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, inflammatory bowel disease, severe muscle spasms, chronic pain or nausea, alongside those with terminal illnesses with less than a year to live

Patients would also have to have a doctor’s diagnosis to obtain their prescription at Wisconsin’s limited dispensaries, and only the patient and up to three caregivers can collect.


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