Marijuana Referendum Approved Unanimously

January 13, 2014
County Board Chair John Hendrick, 608.446.4842 Supervisor Leland Pan 608.332-7495
County Board

The ballot in the April 2014 election will ask voters in Dane County whether the state should legalize marijuana for any purpose, thanks to a resolution passed by a vote of 29-0.


Testifying in favor of the resolution, Dane County resident Cliff Tomasini said legal marijuana could create green jobs.


“There’s a very stable industry of professionals who take their jobs seriously” in the medical marijuana industry, which his company works with, he said. “This is coming whether we like it or not. If we don’t participate in this industry now, others will. Chinese companies, companies in other countries will compete with us.”


“The voice of America is getting louder, and the voice of Dane County needs to be heard,” said Nate Peterson, president of Madison NORML.


Supervisor Leland Pan, the lead sponsor of the resolution calling for the referendum, said people of color are disproportionately affected by marijuana prohibition, even though marijuana use is nearly the same among different races.


“I fundamentally believe that this is a country where everyone can have a voice,” he said. “I want to prove that we can and will take a position on an issue that has been swept aside for too long.”


Ultimately the resolution passed with 29 yes votes and Supervisor Dave Ripp abstaining.


The County Board also unanimously passed a resolution calling for a nonpartisan system to draw up legislative districts at all levels of government, from local wards to Congressional districts. Those districts are currently drawn by the State Legislature and have come under scrutiny as some have accused elected officials of drawing district boundaries to benefit their party.


“The current system, which essentially allows politicians to pick the voters they prefer in each district, is opposed by non-partisan groups such as the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin and Common Cause and numerous newspaper editorial boards in the state,” the resolution reads in part.


In other business, the County Board approved going ahead with $52 million in already-approved spending for capital projects before the money is officially borrowed this fall. Supervisors Ronn Ferrell and Kurt Schlicht voted no.


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