Cannabis in Wisconsin

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Cannabis in Wisconsin is illegal with the exception of non-psychoactive medical CBD oil. Various fines and prison terms apply to cannabis possession, sale, or cultivation.[1] CBD oil was legalized in 2014, but under tight controls and for a very limited number of conditions, primarily seizures. Wisconsin was historically a major producer of industrial hemp until 1958, though a 2017 law has re-opened Wisconsin for hemp farming.[2]

Current Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers campaigned on his support for the legalization of both medical and recreational marijuana in the state.[3] In January 2019, Evers announced he would include medical marijuana in his state budget as a "first step" towards legalization.

Industrial hemp[edit]

Industrial hemp was grown experimentally in Wisconsin as early as 1908 on state farms under the direction of the Wisconsin Agricultural Experiment Station.[4][5]

The Rens Hemp Company of Brandon, Wisconsin, closed in 1958, was the last legal hemp producer nationwide in operation following the World Wars.[6] Prior to its 1957 shutdown, Rens had been the primary provider of hemp rope for the United States Navy.[7]

In November 2017, Governor Scott Walker signed a law legalizing cultivation of industrial hemp (containing under 0.3% THC), following unanimous approval of the bill in the Legislature.[8]


The 1939 legislation "161.275 Possession and use of marijuana; penalty" stated that the penalty for "growing, cultivating, mixing, compounding, having control of, preparing, possessing, using, prescribing, selling, administering or dispensing marijuana or hemp" would be no less than one year and no more than two years in the state prison.[9]

Medical use of cannabidiol[edit]

In April 2014, Wisconsin Act 267 (2013 Assembly Bill 726) was enacted. The legislation nominally legalized the use of cannabidiol (CBD) in the state for treatment of seizure disorders. It was passed by a voice vote in the Assembly and a unanimous 33–0 vote in the Senate. It was renamed "Lydia's Law" by an act a month later in honor of a seven-year-old girl who suffered from a rare form of epilepsy; the girl's parents had pushed by CBD legislation in the state.[10] The bill was criticized as being largely symbolic, as in order to gain support for passage in the Senate, its sponsors added a clause specifying that CBD oil must have FDA approval to be prescribed; prior to that clause the bill had support in the Assembly but was stalled in the Senate. Because CBD does not yet have FDA approval, and because a complex series of steps are required to allow trial usage, Wisconsin doctors are not allowed to prescribe CBD.[11] As of May 2015, CBD advocates stated that they could not find a doctor in Wisconsin willing to prescribe CBD. In mid-2015, a state legislator proposed an amendment to remove penalties for possession of CBD oil, negating prescription requirements, but the amendment still would not provide a legal way to create or obtain CBD oil.[12]

In February 2017 the Wisconsin Senate passed Senate Bill 10,[13] a bill allowing people to possess CBD oil by a vote of 31-1.[14] Senate Bill 10 amends Lydia’s Law (2013 Act 267), which allowed access to CBD oil under limited circumstances in Wisconsin. Senate Bill 10 allows for possession of CBD oil in Wisconsin if a doctor has certified the oil is being used to treat a medical condition. In addition, the bill requires Wisconsin follow suit if CBD oil is rescheduled at the federal level.

In March 2017, the Wisconsin Assembly passed Assembly Bill 49[15] unanimously, 98-0,[16] sending Senate Bill 10/Assembly Bill 29 to Gov. Scott Walker, who signed the bill into law in April 2017.[17]

Reform attempts[edit]

In 2013, and 2015 State Representative Melissa Sargent (D-Madison) introduced bills to fully legalize cannabis in the state, with no success.[18][19] 2017 introduced another bill[20]

2015-16 Legislative session saw 8 reform bills fail: 2015 AB944 Relating to: expungement of nonfelony possession of marijuana offenses 2015 AB995 Relating to: reclassifying or changing penalties for certain crimes and providing a criminal penalty 2015 Assembly Bill 994 Relating to: reclassifying certain felonies to misdemeanors and providing a criminal penalty. 2015 Assembly Bill 246/2015 Senate Bill 167 Relating to: possession of 25 grams or less of marijuana and distribution and delivery of marijuana. 2015 Assembly Bill 945 Relating to: repeat offenses of possession of marijuana. 2015 Senate Bill 789 Relating to: medical use of marijuana, the regulation of marijuana distribution entities, requiring the exercise of rule-making authority, making appropriations, and providing a penalty 2015 Assembly Bill 224 Relating to: marijuana possession, regulation of marijuana distribution and cultivation, medical marijuana, operating a motor vehicle while under the influence[21]

2013-14 Legislative session had 6 bills related to marijuana reform[22]


Menominee Indian Reservation[edit]

In August 2015 the Menominee Indian Reservation held a vote on proposed measures to legalize medical and/or recreational cannabis. The Menonimee are uniquely placed in the state, as the only American Indian reservation which falls only under federal law, rather than under Wisconsin Public Law 280 like all other reservations in the state, meaning that the state of Wisconsin cannot prevent legal changes within the sovereign reservation.[23]

Dane County[edit]

On April 1, 2014 voters of Dane county voted on a nonbinding referendum to legalize marijuana. It passed with 65% of the vote.[24]

City of Fond du Lac[edit]

On January 26, 2011 by Ord. No. 3450, marijuana for medical purposes was decriminalized within Fond du Lac city limits with the language "No person within the corporate limits of the City shall possess marijuana or a synthetic cannabinoid unless the substance was obtained directly from or pursuant to a valid prescription or order of a practitioner while acting in the course of his professional practice." [25]


  1. ^ "Wisconsin Laws & Penalties". Retrieved 2015-08-20.
  2. ^ NBC15. "Walker signs bill legalizing hemp farming in Wisconsin". Retrieved 2017-12-02.
  3. ^ "Tony Evers likely to include 'first step' to medical marijuana in his state budget". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved 21 January 2019.
  4. ^ United States. Bureau of Plant Industry, Soils, and Agricultural Engineering (1908). Report. U.S. Government Printing Office. p. 39.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
  5. ^ United States. Dept. of Agriculture (1910). Report of the Secretary of Agriculture. The Department. p. 77.
  6. ^ Tappi Journal. Technical Association of the Pulp and Paper Industry. 1999. p. 114.
  7. ^ John Roulac (1 January 1997). Hemp Horizons: The Comeback of the World's Most Promising Plant. Chelsea Green Pub. p. 59. ISBN 978-0-930031-93-0.
  8. ^
  9. ^ Wisconsin (1939). Wisconsin Statutes, 1939: Printed Pursuant to the Provisions of Section 35.18 of These Statutes, and Embracing All General Statutes in Force at the Close of the General Session of 1939. Legislative Reference Bureau. pp. 1893–. STANFORD:36105064280782.
  10. ^ "Gov. Walker Renaming Wisconsin Act 267 "Lydia's Law" in Honor of Girl, 7". WSAW. May 21, 2014.
  11. ^ Ferguson, Dana (June 16, 2014). "Law allowing marijuana derivative for treatment of seizures remains unused". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
  12. ^ Mark Schaff (April 20, 2015). "'Lydia's Law' passes, but treatment still elusive". Racine Journal-Times.
  13. ^ "Wisconsin Legislature: SB10: Bill Text". Retrieved 2017-03-10.
  14. ^ "2017 Senate Vote 12". Retrieved 2017-03-10.
  15. ^ "Wisconsin Legislature: AB49: Bill Text". Retrieved 2017-03-10.
  16. ^ Times, Jessie Opoien | The Capital. "Wisconsin Assembly unanimously approves bill to ease access to CBD oil". Retrieved 2017-03-10.
  17. ^
  18. ^ REP. MELISSA SARGENT (Democratic Wisconsin Assembly member) (2015-04-13). "Rep. Melissa Sargent: Marijuana legalization must happen in Wisconsin : Ct". Retrieved 2015-08-20.
  19. ^ Marley, Patrick (2015-04-13). "Democratic legislator to introduce bill legalizing pot". Retrieved 2015-08-20.
  20. ^ "PDF download - 2017 Wisconsin LRB-2457 Marijuana Legalization Bill" (PDF).
  21. ^ |url= |title=Wisconsin State Legislature 2015 Biennium marijuana related bills
  22. ^ |url= |title=Wisconsin State Legislature 2013 Biennium marijuana related bills
  23. ^ Spivak, Cary (2015-08-16). "Menominee tribe prepares for vote on legalizing marijuana". Retrieved 2015-08-20.
  24. ^ "Dane County State Legalization of Marijuana Referendum, Question 2 (April 2014)". April 4, 2014. Retrieved February 5, 2015.
  25. ^ City of Fond du Lac Municipal Code Section 500-5 url=