RACINE – The Racine Common Council this evening (Tuesday) will consider a resolution to place an advisory referendum on the November general election ballot to measure public opinion on marijuana legalization.
The council meeting starts at 7 p.m. in Room 205 City Hall, 730 Washington Ave. It will also be presented live on the city’s Facebook page.
The resolution is sponsored by Mayor Cory Mason and Alders C.J. Rouse, Sam Peete, Marcus West and Amana Paffrath. It calls for asking city voters on their opinion on allowing adults age 21 and older “to engage in the personal use of marijuana, while also regulating commercial marijuana-related activities and imposing a tax on the sale of marijuana.”
If approved, the yes-or-no question to be placed on the city’s Nov. 8 ballot will state: “Should marijuana be legalized for adult-use, taxed and regulated like alcohol?”
The council’s Finance and Personnel Committee previously approved the resolution at its July 11 meeting.
The accompanying resolution cites numerous statistics related to the topic, including a February 2022 Marquette University Law School poll in which 61 percent of state residents surveyed supported the legalization and taxation of marijuana; a July 2021 Gallup survey in which 49 percent of Americans say they have used marijuana, and that 37 states, including neighboring Illinois, Michigan and Minnesota have legalized some form of marijuana.
The city resolution also points out that Racine “is failing to benefit from marijuana-related small business opportunities and sales tax that neighboring communities in Illinois are increasingly capitalizing on” that legalization “would undercut the illicit market and help ensure that marijuana use and sale are regulated and safe” and that “marijuana use as an alternative to prescription pain-killers has been shown to reduce opioid addiction.”
A New Push
Although the Wisconsin Legislature has not approved laws related to marijuana legalization for either medical or recreational use, local governments around the state are again taking up advisory referenda related to legalizing the sale and use of marijuana.
Voters in Ashland, in April, approved an advisory referendum calling for marijuana to be approved for recreational use.
Earlier this month, a group of Milwaukee County supervisors were working on placing an advisory referendum on November’s ballot that is similar to a referendum that voters there approved by a 70 percent margin in 2018. That resolution states: “It is important that Milwaukee County ask its voters the same question to better understand how people’s views are changing on the issue of marijuana legalization, and to help put a stop to the waste of public resources toward enforcement which unjustly affects.”
Prior Marijuana Referenda Approved
Meanwhile, Racine area voters have previously weighed in on ballot questions about marijuana.
In November 2018, 83 percent of City of Racine voters agreed that marijuana should be taxed and 73 percent voted to decriminalized marijuana use.
In the same election, 85 percent of Racine County voters approved of medical marijuana use and 59 percent approved of overall marijuana legalization.