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GOP medical marijuana pitch faces criticism from both sides

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(The Center Square) – The latest plan to legalize marijuana in Wisconsin isn’t making either side happy.

A group of Republicans on Monday introduced the outline for a new, medical marijuana program in the state.

It would be limited to just severely or chronically ill patients, like people with cancer or multiple sclerosis, and the program would limit what kind of medical marijuana people can use.

“It can become like the Wild Wild West out there and we didn’t want that to happen here. We want to make this available to people, but we want to have tight controls on it as well,” Sen. Jon Plummer, R-Lodi, told reporters at the Capitol. “I know there’s oils and gummies for sure, the only one that I know that we left out was a smokable. We had several stakeholders that were opposed to the smokable. I’m not an expert on the product itself, but you know in our meetings that those were the two that came up the most.”

Plummer said the idea is to have five dispensaries across the state where people can buy medical marijuana. Those dispensaries would be state-owned, and the people who work there would be state employees. Plummer added the idea is to provide medicine to people in need, not for the state to run a profit from medical marijuana.

The proposal faced immediate opposition at the Wisconsin Capitol.

Republicans, like state Rep. Bard Dittrich, R-Oconomowoc, said she doesn’t want to take the first step toward fully legal pot in the state.

“My position on marijuana has never wavered, and I have clearly articulated it to those who speak with me about the issue: Wisconsin will have legalized marijuana, but it will happen without my vote,” Dittrich said Monday. “I respect those who want to advance medical use just as I expect them to respect my position. It’s a tough issue.”

Democrats, however, criticized the proposal because it doesn’t fully legalize marijuana like Illinois, Michigan and Minnesota.

“As Wisconsin is increasingly an island of prohibition, putting forward an overly restrictive medical cannabis bill does not move our state in the right direction. I will continue to tirelessly advocate for full legalization that will provide the public safety, freedom, opportunity, and economic benefit that Wisconsinites deserve,” Sen. Melissa Agard, D-Madison, said Monday.

There are likely enough votes to pass the medical marijuana plan, and Gov. Tony Evers has said he will sign it if it makes it to his desk.

Plummer is not saying when he expects the proposal to get its first hearing at the Capitol.

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