How to open a dispensary in Wisconsin


Are you looking for information on how to open a dispensary in Wisconsin? This page will keep you up-to-date on the most recent news and information on the cannabis sector in the state, providing vital insights into what will happen in the coming months.

In Wisconsin, marijuana is currently illegal. CBD derived from hemp that fulfills the federal criteria of containing no more than 0.3 percent THC, on the other hand, is permitted.

According to a March 7, 2022 interview with Wisconsin Public Radio, Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke (R) said that implementing medical cannabis legalization would be a more plausible prospect as a first step toward the state’s legalization of marijuana. However, despite the fact that adult-use legalization has a far more difficult route to go through the legislature and be signed into law, Representative Steineke believes Wisconsin is moving in that direction.

A poll conducted by the Marquette Law School found that individuals in Wisconsin are more supportive of marijuana legalization than ever before. 61% of voters support marijuana legalization, a significant increase over the 2013 poll’s 50%. When it comes to party affiliation, 51% of Republicans and 75% of Democrats want to make it legal.

In November 2022, voters in at least six Wisconsin cities and counties will be asked whether they favor legalizing, taxing, and regulating cannabis like alcohol. Dane, Eau Claire, Milwaukee, Appleton, Kenosha, and Racine adopted advisory referendums aimed at measuring public opinion on the subject of legalization. While the results won’t immediately affect the law, they might send a message to state politicians regarding marijuana legalization.

The Opportunity Size

Gov. Tony Evers (D) of Wisconsin said that his office believes that legalizing and taxing cannabis statewide will generate more than $165 million in revenue annually beginning in 2022, a figure that would almost certainly climb as the industry matured.

Efforts for Legalization

In February 2021, in his proposed state budget, Gov. Tony Evers (D) attempted to legalize recreational and medicinal marijuana in the state, but the cannabis language was pulled out by a GOP-led legislative committee. Democrats attempted to reinstate the measures via the passage of an amendment, but Republicans rejected their efforts.

Medical marijuana legalization in Wisconsin is being reintroduced into the state by Republican legislators. On January 26, 2022, Representative Patrick Snyder and Senator Mary Felzkowski proposed a bill to establish a state commission to regulate medicinal marijuana. Patients who qualify for medicinal marijuana will be permitted to possess and use it, while dispensaries, producers, transporters, processors, and labs will be granted licenses to operate in the state.

Under the bill, a medicinal marijuana regulatory commission would be formed within the Department of Revenue, which would be responsible for enforcing regulations for the program in cooperation with a medical marijuana advisory board. However, on March 15th, 2022, the bill failed to pass according to Senate Joint Resolution 1, and on March 23rd, 2022, a fiscal estimate was received.

On February 15th, 2023, Gov. Evers revealed his biennial budget proposal that again includes provisions for legalizing medical and recreational cannabis in the state. The governor indicated his intention to put a measure in his request allowing adults aged 21 and above who are residents of Wisconsin to buy and possess up to two ounces of marijuana for personal use. Non-residents, on the other hand, would be allowed up to one-quarter ounce. The governor’s office forecasts that legal cannabis would generate approximately $44.4 million in “segregated tax revenue” for the state and an additional $10.2 million in general fund tax revenue for fiscal year 2025.

On May 2nd, 2023, Wisconsin’s proposal to legalize marijuana, which was included in the state’s budget by Democratic governor Tony Evers, was rejected by Republicans in the legislature. There were approximately 500 more parts of the budget plan that were shot down. 

Wisconsin residents will not be able to petition to have a medical marijuana initiative placed on the state’s ballot. Any legislation aimed at legalizing marijuana would have to be approved by the state legislature.

According to Assembly Majority Leader Steineke, one of the most difficult aspects of legalizing marijuana in the state will be developing legislation that is both comprehensive and restrictive enough to pass. The real problem is how well the legislature can write a medicinal marijuana bill that doesn’t open the door wide to recreational marijuana.

Local Cannabis Restrictions & Laws

In Wisconsin, Appleton, Eau Claire, Madison, Milwaukee, and other local jurisdictions have passed municipal ordinances or resolutions that either completely or partly decriminalize minor recreational cannabis possession charges. 

On March 1, 2022, Green Bay, Wisconsin’s third-largest city, adopted revisions to its cannabis possession policy on March 1, 2022. The members of the city’s Common Council unanimously decided to cut the penalty for people 21 and older who are in possession of 28 grams or less of cannabis in public or private settings to zero dollars.

Medical Marijuana

Medical marijuana in Wisconsin is limited to CBD. It is only allowed for people who have a signed authorization from a physician and only if the CBD has no psychoactive effect.

In 2014, Wisconsin authorized CBD oil for medicinal purposes. Lydia’s Law, formally known as Wisconsin Act 267, authorized CBD oil but with very rigorous medical standards. It was approved particularly for people suffering from seizure disorders.

In 2017, Gov. Scott Walker signed Senate Bill 10 into law, legalizing CBD oil in Wisconsin. The law made it legal for residents to possess CBD oil with a physician’s prescription.

SB 10 in Wisconsin foresaw the need for the state government to adhere to federal law if CBD oil was reclassified on the national scale. In March 2017, the Wisconsin Assembly enacted Assembly Bill 49, which loosens limitations on CBD.

The state then passed SB 188, which clarified and linked Wisconsin’s hemp production rules with the 2018 Farm Bill, by defining the terms and THC concentration as less than 0.3 percent.

Currently, Wisconsin is not accepting any cannabis business applications.

As Wisconsin continues to develop its cannabis program and as events unfold that will impact when and how marijuana legalization will occur, we will keep you informed of any relevant news regarding the establishment of a dispensary in Wisconsin. By subscribing to our Wisconsin Cannabis Mailing List (below), we will keep you informed of all the relevant and not-so-easy-to-find information and news about Wisconsin legalization. This includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  • What are the most recent developments regarding the legalization of cannabis in Wisconsin?
  • When will applications for new cannabis licenses be available?
  • What special programs will be offered?
  • And more

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