County considering advisory referendum on marijuana - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

County considering advisory referendum on marijuana

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La Crosse County, WI (WXOW) -

An advisory referendum on legalizing marijuana is being considered by a La Crosse County executive committee.

Its purpose, officials said, is to understand where La Crosse County voters stand on the issue of marijuana legalization. The outcome would not immediately affect any laws or policies in place currently, but instead send La Crosse County's thoughts on what is becoming more and more of a national conversation to the state level.

"There have been a lot of states that have moved on medical marijuana, there are a number of states that have moved to legalize marijuana and to tax it," County Board Chair Tara Johnson said. "Colorado comes to mind, where they pretty much wiped out a state deficit and they have a lot of money available for spending."

The issue of marijuana connected to tax revenue in Colorado is more complex. A 15% excise tax plus another 15% sales tax is taken. Those then are split between education funding requirements, local governments and health initiatives. Some have argued that the money used for education does not nearly cover the cost of underfunded schools. 

After legalization in 2012, 70% of cities and counties either opted out or outright banned recreational marijuana dispensaries, effectively lowering the potential sales tax revenue.

La Crosse County is also potentially interested in opinions on other factors, such as the cost of marijuana-related offenses to taxpayers.

The executive committee and full county board will continue the discussion of an advisory referendum in the coming weeks. They have until the end of July to get the question on the November ballot. 

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