Marijuana advisory referendum passes in 16 WI counties

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU -- After Tuesday’s election, voters across Wisconsin expressed their support for legalizing the use of marijuana in some form.

Sixteen different counties in the state voted yes for either the recreational use, medical use, or both.

The following counties include: Eau Claire, La Crosse Milwaukee, Racine, Dane, Rock, Brown, Clark, Forest, Kenosha, Langlade, Lincoln, Marathon, Marquette, Portage and Sauk.

Yesterday’s ballot was just an advisory referendum, which means it is non-binding. Advisory referendums are meant to hear the public's opinion for future legislation.

Democrat Jodi Emerson said while she's not decided on the issue, it is important to talk about.

“We need to have an open, honest, fair, long term discussion about where we're going in the future,” said Emerson.

On the other hand, Republican Brian Westrate said he thinks legalizing marijuana in the state isn't likely to happen any time soon.

“To me this was an underhanded tactic by the democrats to turn their voter base out,” said Westrate.

Before becoming legal, there is a process. Emerson said it’s going to need to be presented to the state legislature.

“It's going to need to go through both the Assembly and the Senate and then signed into law by soon to be Governor Evers,” said Emerson.

Both Emerson and Westrate agree medicinal marijuana could provide benefits to some people.

“In states where marijuana is legal, there is a decrease in opioid use and opioid overdose,” said Emerson. “If legalizing marijuana helps us save lives due to the opioid crisis, I think it's really worth looking at.”

Westrate said if Wisconsin goes down the road of legalizing marijuana for medicinal purposes, he’d like to see a system in place where doctors are writing prescriptions for legitimate ailments.