Wisconsin Marijuana Laws 2024

  1. Wisconsin Cannabis
  2. Wisconsin Marijuana Laws

Key Points

  • Cannabis is illegal in Wisconsin
  • Governor Tony Evers included measures to legalize cannabis in the governor’s executive budget. However, the measures were removed by lawmakers in May 2023
  • The governor confirmed he is willing to sign a GOP-led limited medical marijuana bill, due to be introduced in January 2024, into law
  • Wisconsin law allows for the use of CBD products containing no more than 0.3% THC
  • Some Wisconsin municipalities have decriminalized cannabis possession of small amounts

Is Marijuana Legal in Wisconsin?

Marijuana is currently illegal in Wisconsin for both recreational and medical uses. It is prohibited to possess, manufacture, distribute, sell, cultivate, or use cannabis in the state. However, there are early indications that Wisconsin may legalize medical marijuana in 2024. Although some Wisconsin jurisdictions have decriminalized cannabis, it is not the same as legalizing the drug. Wisconsin municipalities, such as Kenosha, Appleton, Madison, Milwaukee, Wausau, and Green Bay, only charge offenders with a civil violation for possession of small amounts of cannabis. Possessing larger quantities will attract harsher charges and potentially stiffer penalties.

Wisconsin Marijuana Laws in 2024

Wisconsin has not legalized any form of marijuana as of early 2024. However, there are proposals pending for the legalization of the drug. Governor Tony Evers included measures on legalizing, regulating, and taxing cannabis in the governor's budget for the 2023 - 2025 biennial. However, Wisconsin lawmakers removed the proposals following a hearing of the legislature’s Joint Finance Committee, with members voting 12-4 to eliminate the cannabis provisions.

Evers proposed a plan that would have permitted individuals aged 21 and above to buy and own up to two ounces of marijuana for personal use, as well as cultivate up to six plants. The Department of Revenue (DOR), which advocated for legalization in its budget proposal for the year, would have been entrusted with regulating the market and issuing licenses for cannabis businesses.

Earlier, the governor had previously included provisions for both adult-use and medical marijuana legalization in his 2019 proposal, along with decriminalization and medical cannabis. However, the Wisconsin legislature has consistently held off on the reforms. More recently, the GOP leaders in the Wisconsin legislature signaled a willingness to push for a limited medical marijuana legalization. Governor Evers confirmed he would back their proposed bill as long as it does not include “poison pills” like unrelated or overly restrictive provisions inserted in the piece of legislation.

Timeline of Cannabis Law in Wisconsin

Cannabis is illegal in Wisconsin. However, the following are noteworthy events in the cannabis timeline in the state:

  • 1935: Wisconsin prohibited the possession of cannabis
  • 2016: Governor Scott Walker signed A.B. 726 into law, exempting persons with seizure disorders from criminal penalties related to possessing and using CBD. This exception is only applicable to CBD containing no more than 0.3% THC and to persons who have obtained physician recommendations or approvals
  • 2017: Governor Scott Walker signed Act 4 into law to expand the existing CBD law, allowing patients with any medical condition to access CBD with no psychoactive effect

Federal Legalization of Weed in 2024

Despite cannabis' legal status in several states, it remains illegal federally. However, certain reform moves have been made federally in recent years:

  • Biden’s Presidential Pardon: In October 2022, President Biden delivered a significant announcement to grant a complete and unconditional pardon to all present United States citizens and lawful permanent residents who had committed the offense of simple marijuana possession in violation of the Controlled Substances Act. This pardon also extended to United States citizens and permanent residents convicted of simple possession of marijuana offenses in violation of the Controlled Substances Act. In addition, the president's executive order urged governors to take similar actions in cases related to state offenses. Furthermore, the order requested the Secretary of United States Health and Human Services and the Attorney General to review the scheduling of cannabis under federal law promptly
  • CAOA: Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senators Ron Wyden and Cory Booker are set to reintroduce the comprehensive Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act (CAOA) in 2023. This all-encompassing legislation is designed to decriminalize cannabis by removing the substance from its classification under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). The CAOA addresses a wide range of issues, including research, public safety, restorative justice and equity, taxation and regulation, public health, and industry practices pertaining to cannabis
  • MORE Act: Representative Jerry Nadler intends to reintroduce the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement (MORE) Act, although the level of attention it garners remains uncertain. The primary goal of the MORE Act is to decriminalize cannabis by removing it from the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) and eliminating criminal penalties associated with the manufacturing, distribution, and possession of cannabis
  • States Reform Act: Representative Nancy Mace plans to introduce the States Reform Act, which aims to decriminalize cannabis at the federal level by granting full authority to individual states to regulate and prohibit cannabis as they see fit, treating cannabis products similarly to alcohol. The bill gained substantial support from the industry in 2022 and dominated discussions during the congressional hearings
  • SAFE Banking Act: The legislation has a twofold objective of establishing a secure environment for financial institutions to offer conventional banking services to cannabis businesses operating in jurisdictions where the drug has been legalized while granting these businesses access to lines of credit, loans, and wealth management services. The bill has successfully passed in the House on seven separate occasions, demonstrating bipartisan support. Despite the House's multiple debates on the SAFE Banking Act throughout 2022, the Senate did not address the bill until November. Given its history, there is a strong likelihood that the SAFE Banking Act will be reintroduced

Can I Use Cannabis in Wisconsin?

No, it is illegal to use cannabis in Wisconsin as it remains banned for recreational and medical purposes. Only the use of CBD products with no more than 0.3% THC is legal.

How the Legal Sale of Cannabis in Wisconsin Happens

Cannabis sale is prohibited in Wisconsin as the drug has not been legalized in the jurisdiction. Hence, any sale of cannabis happening in the state currently is illegal.

Penalties for Marijuana-related Crimes in Wisconsin

Possession

  • Possession of any amount for a first-time offense is a misdemeanor punishable by 6 months imprisonment and up to $1,000 in fines
  • Possession of any amount of marijuana (subsequent offense) is a felony punishable by 3.5 years imprisonment and up to $10,000 in fines

Sale, Delivery, And Possession With Intent To Distribute

  • The sale or delivery of up to 200 grams of cannabis is a felony punishable by 3.5 years imprisonment and up to $1,000 in fines
  • The sale or delivery of between 200 and 1,000 grams of cannabis is a felony punishable by 6 years imprisonment and up to $10,000 in fines
  • The sale or delivery of between 1,000 and 2,500 grams of cannabis is a felony punishable by 10 years imprisonment and up to $25,000 in fines
  • The sale or delivery of between 2,500 and 10,000 grams of cannabis is a felony punishable by 12.5 years imprisonment and up to $25,000 in fines
  • The sale or delivery of more than 10,000 grams of cannabis is a felony punishable by 15 years in jail and up to $50,000 in fines

Cultivation

  • The cultivation of 4 plants or fewer cannabis plants is a felony punishable by 3.5 years imprisonment and up to $10,000 in fines
  • The cultivation of between 4 and 20 cannabis plants is a felony punishable by 6 years imprisonment and up to $10,000 in fines
  • The cultivation of between 20 and 50 cannabis plants is a felony punishable by 10 years imprisonment and up to $25,000 in fines
  • The cultivation of between 50 and 200 cannabis plants is a felony punishable by 12.5 years imprisonment and up to $25,000 in fines
  • The cultivation of more than 200 cannabis plants is a felony punishable by 15 years in jail and up to $50,000 in fines

Hash And Concentrates

The offenses and penalties associated with marijuana are the same for hashish or concentrates in Wisconsin.

Marijuana Paraphernalia

  • The use or possession of paraphernalia with intent to use is a misdemeanor punishable by 30 days in jail and up to $500 in fines
  • The distribution or sale of marijuana paraphernalia is a misdemeanor punishable by 90 days imprisonment and up to $1,000 in fines
  • The sale of paraphernalia to a minor is a misdemeanor punishable by 9 months imprisonment and up to $10,000 in fines

Driving Under The Influence Of Marijuana In Wisconsin

  • First offense: This is a misdemeanor punishable with a fine of no less than $150 but no more than $300
  • Second offense (within 10 years): This is a misdemeanor punishable with a fine of no less than $350 but no more than $1,100; imprisonment of no less than 5 days and no more than 6 months; mandatory revocation of license for between 12 and 18 months
  • Third offense occurring within the offender's lifetime: This is a misdemeanor punishable by no less than $600, but no more than $2,000; imprisonment for not less than 30 days (mandatory minimum), but no more than 1 year; mandatory revocation of license for between 2 and 3 years
  • Fourth offense occurring within the lifetime of the offender: This is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of no less than $600, but no more than $2,000; imprisonment for no less than 60 days (mandatory minimum), but no more than 1 year; mandatory license revocation for between 2 and 3 years
  • Fourth offense occurring within 5 years of previous offense): This is a Class H Felony punishable with a fine of no less than $600; imprisonment of no less than 6 months
  • Fifth and Sixth offense occurring within the offender's lifetime: This is a Class H Felony punishable with a fine of not less than $600; imprisonment of not less than 180 days; fine of not more than $10,000, imprisonment of no more than 6 years, or both
  • Seventh, Eighth, and Ninth offense: This is a Class G Felony punishable with imprisonment for no less than 3 years; a fine of not more than $25,000, imprisonment for not higher than 10 years
  • Tenth and subsequent offense: This is a Class F Felony punishable with imprisonment of no less than 4 years; a fine of not higher than $25,000, imprisonment for not more than 12 years and 6 months, or both

Other Penalties And Penalty Enhancers For Drugged Driving In Wisconsin

  • If a passenger not yet 16 years of age is present in the vehicle, the offender may face increased penalties
  • If the offense occurs in a construction area, the offender may face increased penalties
  • Multiple convictions can lead to vehicle seizure and forfeiture

Confiscation Of Assets In Wisconsin

Marijuana and items used to distribute the substance are subject to forfeiture under Wisconsin law. Per Section 961.55 of the Wisconsin Statutes, assets that may be forfeited include, but are not limited to:

  • All raw materials, products, and equipment intended for use or used in manufacturing, compounding, processing, delivering, distributing, importing, or exporting any controlled substance
  • All property, real or personal, including money, directly or indirectly obtained from or realized through the commission of any crime

Additional Limitations

When an individual is found guilty of violating the Uniform Controlled Substances Act, the court has the authority to impose additional penalties, apart from any other applicable consequences. These additional penalties may include the suspension of the person's operating privilege for a duration ranging from 6 months to 5 years. Depending on the number of past convictions, the person may have the option to apply for an occupational license.

Possible Remedies For Violators Of Wisconsin Marijuana Laws

Possible remedies for violators of Wisconsin marijuana laws include:

  • Unlawful search and seizure: If marijuana is found in plain view, it can be seized and used as evidence. However, drugs found in your home or vehicle without proper consent to search cannot be introduced as evidence. If you can prove that your Fourth Amendment rights were violated and an illegal search and seizure occurred, it significantly enhances the likelihood of having charges against you dismissed. This defense is frequently employed when contesting drug possession charges
  • Cannabis found on you is owned by someone else: One common defense for any criminal charge is to simply assert that you are not responsible for the alleged offense. Your criminal defense attorney may be able to pressure the prosecution to prove or establish that the marijuana discovered actually belonged to you. If sufficient proof cannot be obtained, the charges against you will likely be dropped
  • Probable cause cannot be established: This entails proving that the law enforcement officer's reason for stopping you was unjustified. You may be able to establish that the reason for the stop can be unlawful

To use any of these remedies, you will likely require the help of an experienced cannabis lawyer. Hence, you should hire the services of a qualified attorney to help in your legal defense.

What is Wisconsin’s Cannabis History?

Cannabis's illegal status in Wisconsin can be traced to the mid to late 1930s when the state banned the possession, cultivation, and sale of the substance. In 2014, Wisconsin passed Lydia's Law, which granted patients with seizure disorders the right to access, possess, and use CBD oil. However, the law only applied to CBD oil that the FDA had approved, and no such products existed at the time. In 2017, Lydia's Law was amended to expand legal access to CBD oil to patients with any medical condition who had written recommendations from Wisconsin doctors.

Between 1977 and 2022, several Wisconsin municipalities decriminalized the possession of small quantities of cannabis, typically up to 25 grams of the drug. These municipalities included Milwaukee, Dane County, Eau Claire, Green Bay, Madison, Kenosha, and Appleton. In 2021, Senator Melissa Agard introduced a bill to legalize cannabis in Wisconsin for both adult and medical use. The bill, LRB 361/SB 545, failed to pass. In February 2023, Governor Tony Evers included a plan to legalize medical and recreational cannabis in his biennial budget request (2023-2025).

Under the governor's proposal, adults 21 and older who are Wisconsin residents would be able to possess up to 2 ounces of recreational cannabis. At the same time, non-residents would be limited to a quarter ounce. The home cultivation of up to 6 cannabis plants for personal use would also be legalized. Additionally, people with debilitating medical conditions would qualify as medical cannabis patients. However, in May 2023, Wisconsin’s lawmakers removed the proposals for legalizing marijuana from the governor’s executive budget.

What are the Restrictions on Cannabis in Wisconsin?

It is illegal to possess or use cannabis in any form, either medical or recreational, in Wisconsin.

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