GOP lawmakers announce new bill to decriminalize medical marijuana

By: Natalie Sopyla 

(WAOW) -- The latest effort to legalize medical marijuana was announced Wednesday, this one by two area GOP leaders.

Senator Mary Felzkowski (R-Tomahawk) and Representative Patrick Snyder (R-Schofield) are co-sponsors of the bill.

"It's another tool in our toolbox for us to help our patients, without a lot of the debilitating side effects that can come from some opioids and other prescription drugs," Felzkowski said.

The bill proposes a medical marijuana regulatory commission, which would be responsible for registering patients and certifying doctors.

If qualified, doctors would be limited to only prescribing medical marijuana in certain ways, like pills or oils, but not as something to smoke.

"We're limiting this because we don't want to see this get totally out of control," Snyder said.

Felzkowski previously introduced a similar bill in the last session that received little support.

She says it's precisely this level of control that will get her the votes she's counting on this time around.

"This bill does appeal more to the Republican controlled legislature because that's who I've got to get the support from in order to pass this legislation," she said.

Marijuana legislation has long been a topic of discussion among Wisconsin lawmakers, including multiple recent Democratic efforts.

"People cannot afford to wait for the state government to act, so I would suggest we take a bill that has already been introduced in a bipartisan way and call for a bipartisan vote on that," said Representative Katrina Shankland (D-Stevens Point).

Felzkowski hopes the bill will be heard sometime in February or March.

Wisconsin is one of about a dozen states in the U.S. that hasn't decriminalized even medical marijuana.

In the Midwest, weed is legal recreationally and for medical use in Illinois and Michigan, where Minnesota has decriminalized it for medical use.