Momentum Building Behind Wisconsin Medical Cannabis Bill, Though Prospects Remain Dim

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Last year, Wisconsin lawmakers attempted to pass a bill in the Democratic-controlled Legislature that would have legalized the use of medical marijuana.

That effort fizzled when the measure failed to gain enough support, even though Democrats are typically more sympathetic to the cause than their political counterparts.

But the key figures behind the bill are trying again. Only this time they have to win over a Republican-controlled Legislature, leading many observers to say the chance of passage is even slimmer than a year ago.

Still, the effort to legalize medical pot in Wisconsin is gaining some momentum, with 15 co-sponsors attaching their names to the bill, which is called the Jacki Rickert Medical Marijuana Act. As one would expect, all of the co-sponsors are Democrats.

In the last legislative session, 17 co-sponsors signed onto the bill. Lawmakers have until Thursday to officially lend their support, meaning the number of co-sponsors could match the tally from 2010.

The bill – sponsored by Rep. Mark Pocan of Madison and Sen. Jon Erpenbach of Waunakee – would allow patients with specified medical conditions to use marijuana to ease their pain. It’s one of several efforts in a handful of states around the country to legalize medical marijuana. Currently, 16 states plus the District of Columbia have MMJ laws on the books.