While Wisconsin’s cannabis decriminalization bill is a longshot to pass, there is new hope that reform could happen in the future.
Wisconsin Democrats Sen. Fred Risser, and Reps. Evan Goyke and Jonathan Brostoff previously submitted a bill to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of cannabis. The bill has not garnered tremendous support from many Republicans, until now. As of today, the bill can now be classified as bi-partisan.
Republican Rep. Adam Jarchow spoke about supporting the decriminalization bill at a Tuesday press conference. According to Jarchow, after speaking with many residents in his district, he now realizes the importance of reforming harsh cannabis penalties.
“If people in rural Northwestern Wisconsin in a conservative district think we need to change course, then maybe we do,” Jarchow said according to McClatchy DC Bureau.
If passed, the bill would decriminalize 10g or less of cannabis. Fines associated with low-level possession would be capped $100 and the potential for incarceration would be eliminated. Currently, the maximum penalty for any amount of cannabis is $1,000 and six months in jail for a first conviction. Subsequent convictions are felonies carrying a maximum of 3.5 years of jail time and $10,000 in fines.
Jarchow seemed to echo the growing sentiment of many residents throughout the country. “It seems to me to be pretty odd that possession of a couple joints could land you in jail or prison,” Jarchow said.
Wisconsin residents may have to wait a bit before any changes are made to current cannabis laws.
“I’m not naive to think that we are going to pass this and get it signed into law,” Jarchow said. He remained optimistic that the bill could generate further conversation among state representatives and eventually be passed.