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LCO Leadership Meets with State Senators to Discuss Cannabis in Wisconsin

By Joe Morey

News Editor

Members of the Lac Courte Oreilles Tribal Governing Board (TGB) attended a meeting with two Wisconsin state senators and the Secretary of the Department of Revenue while attending the State of the Tribes address. Their meeting was to discuss legalization of cannabis in the state and current marijuana bills introduced during this legislative session. Accompanying the tribal delegation was Thi Le, the Tribe’s Cannabis Consultant.

LCO Vice Chairman Tweed Shuman organized the meeting with State Senator Melissa Agard and a representative of Senate Minority Leader Diane Hesselbein's office, both democrats. Secretary of the DOR Peter Barca also attended as did LCO Secretary-Treasurer Bill Trepanier.

Both senators have supported adult use legalization for over 10 years, with Agard introducing 7 bills during that time. Secretary Barca’s participation is integral as his department will be responsible for the permitting of cannabis operations.

Two bills were introduced, one from each side of the aisle. One of those from Senator Agard and the other from Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, a republican whose bill proposes regulation of medicinal use marijuana.

“Senator Agard has been a fierce advocate for cannabis legalization. Over the last 10 years she has introduced and supported proposals to decriminalize and legalize marijuana in Wisconsin,” Le reported. “Her bill proposes legalizing the possession of marijuana; medical marijuana; regulating the production, processing, and sale of marijuana; expunging or redesignating past convictions for marijuana-related crimes; equity grants; making an appropriation; and providing a penalty.”

Le added Senator Hesselbein has been a long-time supporter of marijuana legalization. While she doesn’t author many of the legislative bills, she is commonly listed as a sponsor.

“To the best of my knowledge there are 7 cannabis-related bills on the floor. The most notable ones involve decriminalization of possession, legalization of possession, and legalization/regulation of medical marijuana,” Le reported.

Thi Le told the TGB that none of the bills went anywhere during this session as they are unsupported.

“It is clear that there are not many coordination or bipartisan efforts for marijuana legalization; Democrats want full legalization while Republicans want only medical or don’t support any form of legalization as they are opposed to and fearful of adult-use becoming legal shortly after,” Le wrote in her report. “The fair maps will go into effect next Legislative Session and should offer a more balanced support for marijuana legalization, but we will still need support from both caucuses.”

During the GLITC Board meeting prior to this separate meeting with the state senators, LCO Chairman Louis Taylor questioned the fate of medical marijuana legalization during this Legislative Session to Senator Minority Leader Hesselbein, to which she replied that the Assembly Republicans effectively shut down the restrictive medical bill due to no support from Senate Republicans.

The following week after the State of the Tribes meetings, the LCO TGB approved a comprehensive cannabis feasibility study from Opus CG on February 26.

“This feasibility study is the first step in assessing the best options for LCO to pursue for cannabis operations. In the meantime, it is imperative to begin the regulatory framework for cannabis operations so that when a decision is made for business to move forward, LCO is not constrained by lack of regulations,” Thi Le stated.

Pictured L-R) are LCO Vice Chairman Tweed Shuman, Senator Agard, LCO Sec.-Treasurer Bill Trepanier, Thi Le, Senator Hesselbein's representative, and DOR Secretary Peter Barca. Image by Joe Morey.


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