Marijuana leaf

On the November ballot, Dane County voters will be asked in an advisory referendum if they think marijuana should be legalized.

The Dane County Board of Supervisors approved the advisory referendum Thursday. The approved question on the Nov. 6 ballot asks if voters think marijuana should be legalized, taxed and regulated in the same way that alcohol is for adults over 21-years-old.

The resolution, sponsored by District 6 supervisor Yogesh Chawla, argues that enforcing existing marijuana laws and ordinances detracts from law enforcement officers dealing with more serious crimes and that prohibiting marijuana stifles quality control and sales regulation.

Yogesh Chawla

Dane County Board Supervisor Yogesh Chawla, District 6

Phillip Scott, president of the Wisconsin Hemp Farmers & Manufacturers Association, spoke in favor of the referendum and legalizing cannabis. Legalizing cannabis would provide education, controlled and tested products and less stress on the criminal justice system, he said.

“We see this as an opportunity for legal economic growth,” Scott said. “Why should this industry be run by criminals and be jailed for cannabis in today’s day and age?”

Advisory referendums are not binding and seek to gauge how voters feel about an issue. The Wisconsin State Legislature would need to change the law in order for marijuana to be legal in the state.

Dane County voters strongly backed a referendum advising the state to legalize marijuana in 2014. A 2010 advisory referendum found 75 percent support for legalizing medical marijuana.

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