The difficulty of navigating the marijuana laws in Wisconsin

Marijuana laws are still evolving in Wisconsin. Because of the changing laws, it can be difficult for defendants to navigate the current laws which may be different from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Hemp and cannabis fall under the same penalties regardless of jurisdiction.

NORML is an organization working towards reforming the existing laws regarding marijuana. Currently, the state issues a misdemeanor for first-time possession offenders resulting in up to a $1,000 fine and six months of jail time. Repeat offenders can face felony charges and higher fines and jail time. Defendants charged with sale, delivery and cultivation face harsher penalties and all result in felony charges. Paraphernalia results in a misdemeanor charge.

With the harshness of the penalties, defendants may struggle with how to move on after conviction. The state does allow some first-time offenders diversion or alternative sentencing or conditional release. Probation can help the defendant not have the charges listed on their criminal record. Some jurisdictions have enacted resolutions or laws decriminalizing minor possessions either partially or fully.

As of June 2019, the Journal Sentinel reported that Illinois signed a law legalizing recreational marijuana. While the surrounding states may be embracing medical and recreational cannabis, Wisconsin may not follow as quickly. As Wisconsinites have more access to legal marijuana in neighboring states, there may be an increase in out-of-town traveling.

The state senate is still split on how to handle medicinal marijuana let alone recreational cannabis. Travelers to other states legally selling cannabis should be cautious about bringing marijuana back into Wisconsin as it is still illegal to possess.