City of Racine Proposes Marijuana Advisory Referendum

Council member for Racine’s 3rd District, John Tate II, wants residents to tell the council what they think about legalization marijuana. On Tuesday, he intends requesting that the City of Racine Public Works and Services Committee allow a nonbinding advisory referendum on the general election ballot for November 6 specifically asking what voters think.

The question he plans to get onto the ballot: “Do you support cannabis being legalized for adult and medicinal use, taxed and regulated like alcohol, with the proceeds from the taxes used to fund public education, health care and infrastructure in Wisconsin?” Since this referendum would be advisory, the results will not change any laws in Racine. The question would be purely to inform lawmakers.

“This referendum is an important step towards ending the crisis levels of incarceration seen in our state and across the country for nonviolent drug offenses,” Tate said in a news piece released on Sunday. “My hope, too, is to move towards breaking the pharmaceutical industries’ stranglehold on pain relief and open a new door for members of our community to manage pain and ailments.”

If the committee, which Tate chairs, approved the request, the entire City Council would still need to approve the referendum, as well, which would decide whether it appears on all City of Racine ballots for November 6. The deadline for questions to appear on the referendum is August 28, a full 70 days before the general election occurs.

Thus far, nine states, including Washington D.C., have made recreational marijuana legal. Medically, it is legal in 30 states to date. However, all marijuana, whether recreational or medical, remains illegal at the federal level and therefore illegal nationally. Wisconsin has never been a weed-friendly state. It is one of 20 states prohibiting the use of marijuana for any reason whatsoever. It has always been illegal.

“It is critical that Racine residents be given the opportunity to send a clear message to our state leaders about where we stand on this important issue,” Tate said, “and demand action in the coming legislative sessions.” Meanwhile, elsewhere in Wisconsin, there is much referendum activity going on regarding the question of cannabis legalization.

Ballots in Sauk, Rock, Milwaukee, Langlade, La Crosse, Dane, and Brown, which includes Green Bay, are adding the weed question to their referendums in November. Several others considered whether to put it on their referendums already, including Kenosha County. Yuri Rashkin, Board Member of Rock County, introduced his county’s referendum to the board in June, which it approved by a whopping 14-2 vote.

Tate’s proposal is very similar in language to Rock County’s referendum, which includes the question of whether to use tax monies from marijuana to support infrastructure, health care and public education, as well as the stipulation to “regulate it like alcohol.” Rashkin said, “A referendum will send a very clear message to lawmakers what our county wants, on a state level. We should allow for our constituent’s voices to be heard.”

According to Rashkin, municipalities in his county are already discussing whether to decriminalize possession of cannabis. He has hopes that the referendum will stop lawmakers from delaying changes to marijuana-related legislation with excuses like “we do not know enough yet,” or “we are still waiting for data from other states that have legal laws already.”

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