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Fate of St. Croix marijuana referendum to be decided in August

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The St. Croix County Board of Supervisors will decide in August whether to add a referendum meant to gather public opinion about marijuana legalization to the Nov. 6 ballot.

The St. Croix County Administration Committee on Monday, June 18, voted 4-1 to send a three-part referendum on marijuana legalization to the Board of Supervisors to vote on at its Aug. 7 meeting. After some debate, committee members decided on the following language for the potential referendum, which uses recommended language from the non-profit Wisconsin Justice Initiative:

“Should cannabis: (Please select only one of the alternatives below or your vote will be invalid)

(a) Be legal for adult use, taxed and regulated like alcohol, with the proceeds from the taxes used for education, healthcare, and infrastructure in Wisconsin?

(b) Be legal for medical purposes only and available only by prescription through a medical dispensary?

(c) Remain a criminally illegal drug as provided under current law?”

Though County Board Supervisor Tammy Moothedan brought the issue to the committee, Supervisor Roy Sjoberg was most vocal on the topic. Sjoberg cited data from the Wisconsin Justice Initiative’s website that says black people made up 86 percent of people jailed solely because of a second marijuana possession charge from 2015 to 2017 in Milwaukee County. Unlike most other states, a second charge for marijuana possession is considered a felony in Wisconsin.

“That type of statistic at least causes me to want to discuss this and bring it to the public’s attention, so I’ll probably speak out in favor of its passage at some time in the future,” Sjoberg said during the meeting. “Right now it hasn’t come up at all in the legislature; meanwhile, a lot of young, black people are serving time, and serving time costs a lot of money, in dollars and in lives.”

The average cost per inmate in Wisconsin was $38,644 in 2015, according to the Vera Institute of Justice.

Milwaukee County added a referendum to their fall ballot with a 15-1 county board vote earlier this year, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. Dane and Rock counties will also soon decide if a similar referendum will appear on their fall ballots.

Supervisors suggested the county’s Public Protection and Judiciary Committee and Health and Human Services Board look at the proposed referendum and offer suggestions. However, supervisors will vote on whether to add the referendum to the fall ballot at their August meeting regardless.

Hannah Black

Hannah Black is a graduate of the Missouri School of Journalism interested in the intersection of politics and the everyday lives of citizens. Outside of reporting, she enjoys running, going to museums and concerts, and trying new coffee shops and breweries. Her favorite thing to do is spend time with her dog, Wendell.

(651) 319-4502
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