Brown County Board Votes Wednesday on Inclusion of Marijuana Referendums

On Wednesday, July 18th, the 26-member Brown County Board will take a vote on the inclusion of two advisory referendums concerning the legalization of marijuana for medical and recreational purposes, respectively. Several other Wisconsin counties including Dane and Milwaukee have already approved marijuana referendums to appear on their November ballots. [1] [2] With a 2016 Marquette Law School poll suggesting that 59 percent of Wisconsinites questioned approve the full legalization—with regulation—of marijuana, these referendums seem like an opportune use of a ballot questionnaire to inform state lawmakers about a majority voice for legalization. [3] However, an important minority population faces the greatest injustice under Wisconsin’s current marijuana laws.

  • In Wisconsin, black individuals were 6 times more likely to arrested for marijuana possession compared to whites despite making up less than 10 percent of the state’s population, according to a 2013 ACLU report [4]
  • The same report found Brown County to have the greatest racial disparity in possession arrests statewide with blacks being 7.6 times more likely to be arrested than whites in the Green Bay area.
  • Racial disparities in arrest percentages persist while the number of arrests continues to grow. In 2017, Wisconsin arrested 17,022 individuals for simple possession of marijuana, a 5% growth from the previous year. [5]

Despite rates of marijuana use being only marginally different between races, black populations in Wisconsin are disproportionately affected by the laws which criminalize the drug. [6] Including advisory referendums on marijuana legalization gives Brown County residents the chance to decry a set of laws which allow the subjugation of black individuals under a guise of pursuing a public good. Brown County Board Chair Patrick Moynihan Jr. (who could not be reached for immediate comment) has previously spoken against including a marijuana question on the November ballot [7]. If you support the referendums, let Chairperson Moynihan know by signing Intellegere’s petition. Let the board member who represents your district hear your voice before Wednesday’s vote by contacting them by phone or email. A district map with board member information can be found here.

Tell the Brown County Board to keep marijuana criminalization’s racist footprint in mind this Wednesday.

[1] https://host.madison.com/ct/news/local/govt-and-politics/dane-county-board-approves-advisory-referendum-on-legalizing-marijuana/article_51aac3f0-ab47-5037-b165-d8204e86bc13.html

[2] https://www.jsonline.com/story/news/local/milwaukee/2018/05/10/county-panel-endorses-marijuana-referendum-nov-6-ballot/591566002/

[3] https://www.wpr.org/marquette-law-school-poll-shows-majority-wisconsinites-want-marijuana-be-legal

[4] https://www.aclu.org/report/report-war-marijuana-black-and-white?redirect=criminal-law-reform/war-marijuana-black-and-white

[5] https://www.doj.state.wi.us/dles/bjia/ucr-offense-and-arrest-data-agency

[6] https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/NSDUHresultsPDFWHTML2013/Web/NSDUHresults2013.pdf

[7] https://www.greenbaypressgazette.com/story/news/2018/07/10/marijuana-legalization-weed-pot-brown-county-board-mulls-medical-recreational-referendum-alex-tran/766768002/

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