I applaud Gov. Tony Evers for including taxation and regulation of cannabis as part of his budget proposal. In spite of generations of prohibition, the market for cannabis products has not gone away, and this authoritarian approach creates more problems than it solves.
Without regulation there is no quality control, leaving cannabis users vulnerable to mislabeled or tainted products. Prohibition erodes the trust level of law-abiding cannabis users toward law enforcement.
A well-regulated cannabis industry would offer a lucrative new revenue stream for family farms, small businesses and cash-starved state and local governments. Prohibition forfeits this industry to neighboring states and to the shadowy unregulated and untaxed underground market.
Wisconsin’s tax and regulatory structure for cannabis production must be optimized to support a large number of small producers while discouraging large corporate operations. Other states have seen mega-growers (many backed by the tobacco and alcohol industries) force small and artisan growers into bankruptcy. Wisconsin can do better.
Activists tell me that the biggest obstacle to a Wisconsin cannabis industry is the Tavern League. What if taverns were offered a “taste” of this new industry? Perhaps they could offer an alcohol-free cannabis-based beverage, or they could sell cannabis products “off sale.” Instead of competition, cannabis could give taverns new products to offer their customers.
If we do this right, cannabis regulation and taxation will bring rich new sources of income to our small farms, our corner taverns, and our tax bases. To brush this proposal aside is simply throwing money away.