La Crosse County supervisors nix proposed advisory referendum on legalizing marijuana

2018 referendum already showed voters favor legalization, several say
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(Associated Press photo)

LA CROSSE (WKBT) — La Crosse County residents won’t be voting this fall on an advisory referendum to legalize marijuana, largely because the many county supervisors believe a 2018 vote on the issue already showed people favor it.

County supervisors voted down a resolution 12-16 Thursday night that would have put an advisory referendum on the question: “Do you favor allowing adults 21 years of age and older to engage in the personal use of marijuana, while also regulating commercial marijuana-related activities, and imposing a tax on the sale of marijuana?”

The resolution cited studies showing that the state’s economy could get a $1.1 billion boost from marijuana sales, and that the state revenue department estimates that the sales could generate $138 million a year in tax revenues.

Several supervisors balked at the estimated cost of $5,000 to prepare notifications and the ballot, saying the 2018 vote already showed 63% approval. Spending another $5,000 would be redundant, they said.

Board Chairwoman Monica Kruse explained that proposing the referendum was part of a bipartisan effort among counties statewide to encourage the Legislature to legalize marijuana.

Some supervisors questioned the motives behind such a referendum.

“We already know what voters want,” said Supervisor Dan Ferries.

Supervisor Gary Padesky said it would be worth spending the $5,000 “to make a statement to the state.”

Supervisor Jack Pogreba questioned asking voters again when nothing changes at the state or federal levels. He suggested letting candidates for state and federal legislatures campaign on the issue to let voters decide that way.

“That’s truly how this system works,” he said.

Some board members also noted that many businesses have zero tolerances for marijuana use, while others said continuing to criminalize it just fills jails.

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