Wisconsin Republican legislative leaders disagree on medical marijuana

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said Tuesday that he’s open to the possibility of legalizing medical marijuana, but Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said he opposes such a move.

Illinois, Minnesota and Michigan provide some form of legalized medical marijuana to citizens who require it to control pain, seizures, post-traumatic stress disorder and other medical conditions. Over the past decade, there have been several attempts to legalize the use of marijuana for medical purposes in Wisconsin. A poll taken in 2005 found that Wisconsinites supported medical marijuana by a majority of 75.7 percent.

In 2009, then-state Rep. Mark Pocan, who is now a congressman, and Sen. Jon Erpenbach offered legislation that would have required patients to obtain a prescription from a doctor to receive marijuana. Qualifying patients then would have then been able either to grow pot at home or obtain it through a licensed nonprofit dispensary.

Under that proposed bill, the state would have kept a registry of those who could have received and dispensed marijuana. The bill was nearly identical to one that Michigan voters approved by a 63-percent majority in 2008.

In October 2013, Wisconsin state Rep. Chris Taylor and state Sen. Jon Erpenbach introduced a medical marijuana bill that had 18 co-sponsors, but it failed to go anywhere, primarily due to GOP opposition.

Wisconsin Republicans have long opposed any move toward marijuana legalization. And even though Vos recently said he’s open to medical marijuana, he also said that his priority is ensuring that a marijuana derivative, known as CBD oil, is accessible to treat seizure disorders.

Fitzgerald said there are votes in the Senate to pass a bill making CBD oil available. But he added that he’s “certainly not there” on legalizing medical marijuana.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.