Could Wisconsin be the next state to decriminalize cannabis?

wisconsin cannabis

A bipartisan group of legislators in Wisconsin has introduced a bill to decriminalize small amounts of cannabis in the state. The Dairyland has become an island of prohibition, with every border state (except for Iowa) having legalized adult-use marijuana.

AB-861 would effectively decriminalize the possession of up to 14 grams of cannabis flower, lowering the penalty to a $100 civil fine. Under current law, simple possession carries a potential sentence of six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

The bill also addresses possession of drug paraphernalia, lowering the penalty to a $10 fine. As it stands, people caught with a marijuana pipe or bong could be incarcerated for 30 days. Additional language in the proposed law would prevent prosecutors from considering people with previous simple possession convictions as “repeat offenders.”

“For small, simple possessions of marijuana, Wisconsin should not be throwing people in prison,” the bill’s co-sponsors said in a memo, as reported by Marijuana Moment

Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers (D) has signaled his support for cannabis legalization in the Badger State, calling on lawmakers to enact reform. An adult-use bill was introduced earlier this year but has so far stalled. GOP legislators promised to introduce their own restrictive medical marijuana bill in 2024.

For now, the decriminalization bill is one step forward in a broader conversation around reform in the Midwest.

“North Dakota, New Hampshire, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, and Nebraska have passed legislation that removes jail time for possessing small amounts of marijuana (not including full legalization states),” the co-sponsors continued. “It is time for Wisconsin to join the national discussion.”

Wisconsin residents have shown no qualms about heading to a neighboring legal state to procure pot. One estimate suggested Wisconsinites spent over $36 million in Illinois in 2022 alone. However, the political divide in the Badger State runs deep, leading to concerns over whether any meaningful reform will occur in the coming years.


rachelle gordon

Rachelle Gordon is a cannabis journalist, Emerald Cup judge, Budist critic, and editor of She began her weed writing journey in 2015 and has been featured in High Times, CannabisNow, Beard Bros, MG, Skunk, and many others. Rachelle currently splits her time between Minneapolis and Oakland; her favorite cannabis cultivars include Silver Haze and Tangie. Follow Rachelle on Instagram @rachellethewriter