RACINE — John Tate II, the alderman for Racine’s 3rd District, wants to find out what Racinians think about marijuana legalization.
On Tuesday, he plans to request the City of Racine Public Works and Services Committee to allow a nonbinding advisory referendum on the Nov. 6 general election ballot that will ask voters the following: “Do you support cannabis being legalized for adult and medicinal use, taxed and regulated like alcohol, with the proceeds from the taxes used to fund public education, health care and infrastructure in Wisconsin?”
Since this would be an advisory referendum, no changes would be made to Racine’s laws based on the result of the vote. It would be purely informational.
“This referendum … is an important step towards ending the crisis levels of incarceration seen in our state and across the country for nonviolent drug offenses,” Tate said in a news release Sunday. “My hope, too, is to move towards breaking the pharmaceutical industries’ stranglehold on pain relief and open a new door for members of our community to manage pain and ailments.”
If approved by the committee, of which Tate is the chairman, the referendum would still be subject to approval by the entire City Council, which could decide whether it will appear on all City of Racine ballots on Nov. 6.
The deadline for referendums to be added to the ballot is Aug. 28, 70 days before the general election.
Recreational marijuana has been legalized in nine states (plus Washington, D.C.) and is medically legal in 30 total states, although it remains illegal at the national level. Wisconsin is one of 20 states where smoking marijuana is always illegal.
“It is critical that Racine residents be given the opportunity to send a clear message to our state leaders about where we stand on this important issue,” Tate said, “and demand action in the coming legislative sessions.”
Elsewhere in WI
Ballots in Brown (which contains Green Bay), Dane, La Crosse, Milwaukee, Rock and Sauk counties will include cannabis legalization-related referendums in November. Several others, including Kenosha and Langlade counties, have considered referendums.
Rock County Board Member Yuri Rashkin presented his county’s referendum to that county’s board in June, and it was approved by a 14-2 vote.
Rock County’s referendum includes similar language to Tate’s proposal, including using the tax money from cannabis to support education, health care and infrastructure, and the stipulation to “regulate it like alcohol.”
“(A referendum) will send a very clear message to lawmakers what our county wants … on a state level,” Rashkin said. “We should allow for our constituents voices to be heard.”
Rashkin said that municipalities in his county are already considering decriminalizing possession of marijuana. He hopes that the referendum will prevent state lawmakers from using excuses like “we don’t know enough yet” to delay changes to cannabis-related legislation.
This story has been updated with updated information. As of July 30, Langlade County has not yet approved allowing a cannabis-legalization advisory referendum on its November ballot.