The Walworth County Board’s executive committee will consider an advisory referendum to gauge public support for legalizing marijuana in Wisconsin.
Board member Charlene Staples submitted a resolution to put the referendum on the November ballot. The resolution is identical the one the Rock County Board narrowly passed last week. The Walworth County Board’s executive committee will take up the resolution at its July 16 meeting before deciding whether to advance the measure to the full board.
After the committee meets July 16, the full Walworth County Board is not scheduled to meet again until Sept. 4. That would be a week after the state’s filing deadline for November referendums, but the board could call a special meeting to decide whether to put the referendum on the November ballot.
If the board approves the referendum, it would join other counties already expecting a marijuana advisory referendum.
The Rock County Board passed its referendum resolution by a 14-12 vote. The Milwaukee County Board approved its referendum 15-1 in May. A board member in Dane County has proposed a similar referendum.
The referendums in nearby counties have attracted interest in Walworth County, Staples said. Several constituents have contacted her and urged her to pursue the referendum.
“I really, really just think people should just have a voice. This is the only way to do that, as far as I can tell,” Staples said. “We can’t do anything to help anybody if they don’t start talking about it in Wisconsin.”
Staples said the residents who contacted her about the referendum included an 81-year-old man and a middle-aged real estate agent—people who typically might not be associated with smoking pot, she said.
“I think—my personal opinion—the conversation should be opened up and talked about,” Staples said. “I really and truly believe the citizenry should be asked more questions.”
Advisory referendums exist to gauge voters’ support of topics and sway state lawmakers, not to change laws directly.
Staples said she would like to see more advisory referendums at the county level.
She said her proposed advisory referendum could open the door to a conversation at the state level.
Staples said she used the same resolution submitted by Yuri Rashkin to the Rock County Board. It reads: “Should cannabis be legalized for adult use, taxed and regulated like alcohol, with the proceeds from the Taxes used for education, healthcare, and infrastructure?”