Skip to main content

Wisconsin governor proposes legalizing marijuana in his budget proposal

If it passes, two of Minnesota's neighbors will have legalized recreational marijuana.
Marijuana, cannabis

Wisconsin's governor is proposing legalizing marijuana as part of his state budget proposal, in an effort to bring in more money for the state.

According to a Sunday news release, Gov. Tony Evers proposes making marijuana legal for people 21 and older, saying it would generate more than $165 million a year starting in Fiscal Year 2023.

“Legalizing and taxing marijuana in Wisconsin — just like we do already with alcohol — ensures a controlled market and safe product are available for both recreational and medicinal users and can open the door for countless opportunities for us to reinvest in our communities and create a more equitable state,” Evers said in a statement. “Frankly, red and blue states across the country have moved forward with legalization and there is no reason Wisconsin should be left behind when we know it’s supported by a majority of Wisconsinites.”

In his 2021-23 biennial budget proposal, Evers says legalizing recreational marijuana would increase revenue, create jobs, and reduce criminal justice system costs, while also providing a path for those suffering from chronic pain and illness to utilize the medicine they need (medical marijuana isn't legal in Wisconsin either).

If lawmakers approve legislation legalizing marijuana, Wisconsin would join 15 other states, including another one of Minnesota's neighbors in South Dakota, that have made recreational weed legal. Lawmakers in Minnesota have again a proposed a bill to legalize recreational marijuana, but some Republicans are against it so it's unclear if it will get done this year. 

That's what's expected to happen in Wisconsin, too. Republicans control the state Legislature and Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports they are expected to block the proposal to legalize recreational marijuana, but "it's possible" the GOP would approve legislation that legalizes medical marijuana. 

Thirty-six states have medical marijuana programs, including all the states that border Wisconsin (Minnesota, Illinois and Michigan, with Illinois and Michigan having legalized recreational marijuana, too), the paper says. 

Evers in his 2019-2021 biennial budget proposal proposed legalizing medical marijuana, but Republicans rejected it, the release says. But now, Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said during a January forum that he supports medical marijuana, but not recreational marijuana, Patrick Marley of the Journal Sentinel tweeted.

The governor says legalizing marijuana will generate more than $165 million annually starting in 2023. Here's what he's proposing the state does with this new revenue: 

  • $80 million to reinvest in communities through a new Community Reinvestment Fund, which would fund $30 million in equity grants starting in 2023 through the Department of Health Services, the Department of Administration, and the Department of Children and Families.
  • $5 million to fund grants to underserved communities through the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation.
  • $34 million to support sparsity aid, which goes to small, rural school districts.
  • The remaining funds, about $46 million, would go to the state's General Fund. 

How it would be regulated

Evers proposes regulating marijuana like how the state regulates and taxes alcohol, so both the Department of Revenue and the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection would be involved. 

It would require the sale of marijuana for recreational use to be sold by a marijuana retailer holding a permit issued by the Department of Revenue. And marijuana processors are not allowed to make usable marijuana with marijuana that's grown outside of Wisconsin.

People would need to be 21 years or older to buy marijuana for recreational use, with sales to minors prohibited.

Wisconsin residents wouldn't be allowed to possess more than 2 ounces of marijuana and six plants for personal use, while nonresidents wouldn't be allowed to possess more than 0.25 ounces of marijuana.

Meanwhile, the proposal would also provide a path for medical marijuana users to get marijuana without paying retail taxes.

Next Up

Jason Hackett

New face joining KARE 11's 'Sunrise' morning show

Jason Hackett will be joining Alicia Lewis and Guy Brown on KARE 11's morning show.

Screen Shot 2022-11-30 at 4.04.09 PM

Armed robbery suspect sought in two south metro investigations

The incidents took place at credit unions in Savage and Apple Valley.


Former Twin Cities plastic surgeon charged with sex crimes

Christopher Kovanda is accused of inappropriately touching woman under the guise of providing medical care.

Screen Shot 2022-11-15 at 4.23.26 PM

Minnesota man accused of murder in Chicago is arrested in Alabama

A 26-year-old man from a small town on the Iowa border is accused of murdering a Greyhound bus employee.


Support for Shakopee Public Schools employee diagnosed with cancer

The media specialist has been transitioned to hospice care recently.


Big November snowstorms uncommon in MN, but snowfall is increasing

This week's 8.4 inches at MSP Airport was one of the biggest November storms in the Twin Cities since 1991.


Minnesota nurses take vote on whether to hold second strike

The results will be determined Wednesday night.

unsplash medical marijuana

OCD, irritable bowel syndrome added to MN's medical marijuana list

They are the two latest qualifying medical conditions for Minnesota's marijuana program.

Screen Shot 2022-11-30 at 9.27.45 AM

Fundraiser created for family-owned Cô Tu' Oriental Cuisine after shooting

Support from the community will go towards medical expenses and overhead costs for the restaurant.

Erica Shameka Roberts

Police: Minnesota murder suspect arrested in Texas

Erica Roberts has been on the run since March.


Jackknifed semis close I-35 northbound near Faribault

There are icy conditions across Minnesota



SD judge strikes down voter-approved marijuana legalization amendment

Voters approved the constitutional amendment in November, with recreational marijuana set to become legal in July. Legalization advocates plan to appeal.

Marijuana legalization bill fails in Senate committee

Today's vote is a blow to Minnesota's "legalize recreational pot" movement.


Recreational marijuana bill passes its first MN House committee

The bill would allow people 21 and older to use marijuana legally, with restrictions.

Walz, Flanagan

Walz proposes legalizing marijuana in massive supplemental budget

It's among the provisions in his "Budget to Move Minnesota Forward."

Marijuana, cannabis

MN lawmakers to introduce bill to legalize marijuana

Democrats plan to introduce the bill on Monday, while it's expected to be opposed by many Republicans.

Marijuana, cannabis

Minnesota legal marijuana bill headed for House vote for first time ever

The bill passed the House Ways and Means Committee on Friday.

Marijuana, cannabis

Minnesota DFL'ers use 4/20 to call for marijuana legalization

Democrats use unofficial holiday to say: #LegalizeMN.