**Why it Matters:**
The article discusses the fiscal impact of legalizing cannabis in Wisconsin. It highlights the potential tax revenues that could be generated from the legalization of cannabis and the need to keep those revenues within the state instead of residents spending money on cannabis in neighboring states. The article also mentions the strong support for legalization among registered voters in Wisconsin.
**What They are Saying:**
The Wisconsin Department of Revenue released a fiscal report on the potential impact of cannabis legalization in the state. The report estimates that a 15% excise tax on cannabis could generate up to $24.6 million in the first year, followed by $48.6 million in the second year, and $60.1 million in the third year. Additionally, a 10% excise tax on cannabis retailers could net up to $19.1 million in the first year, $47.3 million in the second year, and $64.9 million in the third year. The report also mentions the potential for sales tax revenue from cannabis, as well as county and stadium tax estimates.
Senator Melissa Agard and Representative Darrin B. Madison introduced Senate Bill 486 to legalize cannabis in Wisconsin. They argue that legalizing cannabis would prevent the outflow of money to neighboring states and instead reinvest that revenue in Wisconsin’s education, infrastructure, and public safety. They also highlight the racial disparities in cannabis arrests and convictions in Wisconsin and believe that the bill would help rectify the harm caused by these convictions.
**The Big Picture:**
The article emphasizes the potential economic benefits of legalizing cannabis in Wisconsin. It highlights the tax revenues that could be generated and the possible uses of that revenue, such as funding public schools and improving infrastructure. It also addresses the racial disparities in cannabis law enforcement and the need to address them through legalization.
**What to Watch:**
The main obstacle to the passage of Senate Bill 486 is the strong opposition from legislators, particularly those in the Republican majority. Despite the strong support for legalization among registered voters in Wisconsin, it is uncertain whether the bill will be approved by the legislature.
Legalizing cannabis in Wisconsin could have significant economic benefits for the state. The estimated tax revenues outlined in the fiscal report demonstrate the potential for generating substantial funds that can be reinvested in important areas like education and infrastructure. Additionally, addressing the racial disparities in cannabis law enforcement is a crucial step towards achieving a more equitable justice system. However, the opposition from legislators poses a major challenge to the bill’s passage. It will be interesting to see how discussions around cannabis legalization unfold in the coming months and whether any compromises or alternative approaches are proposed.