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James Dickinson

Will weed be legalized in 2023? The Wisconsin legislature is likely to revisit the topic of marijuana legalization in 2023, so there may be some movement on the topic. Currently, however, the chances of recreational marijuana being legalized are low due to the stated positions of the majority in the legislature.      

There is some hope, however, if you favor the legalization movement. A 2022 Marquette University Poll on Legal marijuana in Wisconsin; poll finds that 61% support of Wisconsinites are in favor of legalizing marijuana, and 51 percent of Republicans favor its legalization.    

The momentum is moving in favor of legalization, but it will ultimately be up to the legislature to move the issue forward.    

So, although recreational marijuana still has a way to go in Wisconsin, there has been more legislative movement regarding medical marijuana in Wisconsin.    

Bills have been introduced from both sides of the aisle that would legalize medical marijuana in some form. Leadership from the Republicans and Democrats have supported changes to the status quo in Wisconsin. Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos has expressed his support for legalizing medical marijuana. Democrat Governor Tony Evers attempted to legalize marijuana through the budget process.    

Surrounding States

Although a consensus on the extent of legalization of medical marijuana has not been reached, there are favorable signs for the future. The states bordering Wisconsin have passed either medical marijuana or recreational use laws which, over time, may provide the data Wisconsin legislatures are looking for to decide on marijuana's legalization.  

  • Michigan legalized recreational marijuana as of 2019  
  • Minnesota legalized some forms of medical marijuana in 2014  
  • Illinois legalized recreational marijuana as of 2020  

You can find more information on Illinois marijuana laws here: New Illinois Law Legalizing Marijuana in 2020: Frequently Asked Questions.


Wisconsin Marijuana Law

So, what has Wisconsin been willing to do to legalize marijuana? Well, Wisconsin has been willing to open the door to cannabidiol or (CBD) to patients with a physician's prescription. CBD is a derivative produced from a species of cannabis that has been shown to have some beneficial effects without causing the sensation of getting "high". The laws passed so far are:  

  • Lydia's Law  

In 2014 Wisconsin's legislature passed Assembly Bill 726 (Lydia's Law). This law legalized cannabis oil that contains low levels of THC to treat certain specific seizure disorders in children with a physician's prescription.    

This was followed by:  

  • Senate Bill 10  

In 2017 the Wisconsin Senate passed Senate Bill 10, which allowed any Wisconsin citizen to possess and use CBD if they have their physician certify that it is being used to treat any medical condition.    

marijuana plant

In addition to these bills, multiple cities in Wisconsin have decriminalized marijuana. This means that police officers are likely to cite a person with an ordinance violation if they are found to possess marijuana as opposed to the state-level criminal charge. The cities that have decriminalized marijuana in Wisconsin are:  

  • Madison  
  • Appleton  
  • Eau Claire  
  • Green Bay  
  • Kenosha  
  • La Crosse  
  • Marshfield  
  • Milwaukee  
  • Racine  
  • Waukesha  
  • Wausau  

Most of these cities will not refer criminal charges if the amount possessed is less than 25 grams, so if a substantial amount of marijuana is being possessed, you may still be criminally charged in these cities.    

Wisconsin Marijuana Penalties

Throughout the rest of Wisconsin, marijuana laws are typically enforced, and the penalties can be very severe. The penalties in Wisconsin related to marijuana are:  


  • A first offense is a misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of 6 months in jail, a $1,000 fine, or both.  
  • A second and subsequent offenses are a Felony with a maximum sentence of 3.5 years in prison, a $10,000 fine, or both.    

Possession of Marijuana Paraphernalia

This is a misdemeanor with maximum penalties of:  

  • 30 days in jail, a $500 fine, or both.  


Sale of marijuana, Delivery of marijuana, possession with the intent to distribute marijuana  

The penalties in this category are based on the amount possessed with penalty enhancers for subsequent offenses. All these charges are Felonies, and the maximum penalties are as follows:  

  • 200 grams or less is 3.5 years in prison, a $10,000 fine or both.  
  • 200 to 1000 grams is 6 years in prison, a $10,000 fine or both.  
  • 1000 to 2500 grams is 10 years in prison, a $25,000 fine or both.  
  • 2500 to 10,000 grams is 12.5 years in prison, a $25,000 fine or both.  
  • More than 10,000 grams is 15 years in prison, a $50,000 fine or both.  

In addition to these penalties, all items used in the commission of sale or distribution, including vehicles, are subject to forfeiture to the state.    

Your license can be suspended for anywhere between 6 months and 5 years, depending on the charge. This penalty could be added to the charge even if a vehicle was not involved in the sale or distribution of marijuana.  

Cultivation of Marijuana  

Any form of cultivation of marijuana is a Felony in Wisconsin, with subsequent charges also carrying penalty enhancers. The maximum penalties are based on the number of plants being cultivated, and the penalties are:  

  • 4 plants or fewer is 3. 5 years in prison, a $10,000 fine or both.    
  • 4 to 20 plants is 6 years in prison, a $10,000 fine or both.  
  • 20 to 50 plants is 10 years in prison, a $25,000 fine or both  
  • 50 to 200 plants is 12.5 years in prison, a $25,000 fine or both  
  • More than 200 plants is 15 years in prison, a $50,000 fine or both.    

These penalties are severe, and it is essential to realize that most counties in Wisconsin will aggressively file criminal charges if these laws are violated. This is especially important to consider when traveling from neighboring states such as Minnesota, Illinois, and Michigan, where forms of marijuana are legal, into Wisconsin. A common question is:  

What Happens If You Get Caught With Edibles In Wisconsin?

If you are caught with edibles in Wisconsin containing THC, you will more likely than not be criminally charged in accordance with the laws outlined above. The only exceptions are likely to occur if you are caught in one of Wisconsin's cities that enforce possession as an ordinance violation.    

Purchasing edibles or other forms of marijuana legally out of state is not a defense if you bring it into Wisconsin. In fact, the receipts of the legal purchase can and typically are used as evidence against you if you are criminally prosecuted.    

This most frequently becomes an issue between the states of Illinois and Wisconsin. The border between these states is relatively long, with major cities, including Chicago and Milwaukee, within an hour's drive of the border. In 2020 Illinois legalized recreational marijuana, which has led to an increasing number of Wisconsinites border hoping to buy marijuana legally in Illinois. The question then becomes:  

Is It Legal To Bring Weed From Illinois To Wisconsin?  

No, it is not legal to bring weed from Illinois to Wisconsin. The legality of the purchase is not a defense against prosecution in Wisconsin if you are caught with weed.      

So, in conclusion, medical and recreational marijuana are not legal in Wisconsin. Still, there is growing support in public polling and among politicians on both sides of the aisle for changes to the marijuana laws in Wisconsin. Multiple cities are decriminalizing possession in favor of ordinance violations, but the risks associated with bringing any form of marijuana into Wisconsin remain high.    

Economic Implications

Economic growth graph with marijuana leaf symbol

Evaluating the potential economic implications is a vital part of considering the legalization of adult-use marijuana, including edibles, in Wisconsin. The Department of Revenue projects that legalization could potentially generate nearly $170 million annually in tax revenue, providing a significant boost to the state’s economy.

Tax Revenue Projections

The potential surge in tax revenue plays a considerable role in the marijuana legalization debate. The Tax Foundation estimates that Wisconsin could potentially generate over $117 million in annual marijuana excise tax revenue from a fully operational market. Moreover, a state estimate shows that Illinois collected $36.1 million in taxes from marijuana sales to Wisconsinites, suggesting a significant tax revenue opportunity for Wisconsin itself if marijuana, including edibles, were legalized.

Business Growth and Job Creation

Legalization could spur significant business growth and job creation, in addition to increasing tax revenue. The establishment of a legalized cannabis market could stimulate business development on main streets and support local entrepreneurship.

Moreover, the creation of a new industry could open up opportunities for job creation across various sectors including cultivation, processing, distribution, and retail.

Cost of Enforcement

The economic ramifications of marijuana prohibition not only include missed opportunities for taxation and regulation but go beyond that. There are significant costs associated with enforcement, including law enforcement and judicial system expenses related to criminal enforcement and incarceration for cannabis-related activities.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are edible gummies legal in Wisconsin?

Yes, Delta 9 edibles, including gummies, are legal in Wisconsin as long as the THC is derived from the hemp plant, not marijuana.

What states sell legal edibles?

You can find a list of states that sell legal edibles by downloading the table data from a reliable source.

Are dabs a felony in Wisconsin?

Yes, first offense possession of dabs in Wisconsin is a misdemeanor, but any subsequent offense is a felony. Be cautious of the consequences for repeated possession.

Is it illegal to fly domestically with edibles?

It is illegal to fly domestically with edibles, as they are considered forms of concentrated cannabis and are regulated under the same laws as flower. Possession limits for cannabis concentrates are lower.

How old do you have to be to buy from a dispensary in Wisconsin?

You must be 18 years or older and have a qualifying medical condition to purchase from a dispensary in Wisconsin, following the Madison Common Council legislation approved in November of 2020.

Disclaimer: The information provided on this blog is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Each individual's legal needs are unique, and these materials may not be applicable to your legal situation. Always seek the advice of a competent attorney with any questions you may have regarding a legal issue. Do not disregard professional legal advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this blog.

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