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Medical marijuana gaining bipartisan support in Wisconsin; local businesses prepare for legislationSubmitted: 01/03/2020
Peter Dubois
Peter Dubois
Reporter/Anchor
pdubois@wjfw.com

Medical marijuana gaining bipartisan support in Wisconsin; local businesses prepare for legislation
WISCONSIN - 2020 marked the start of recreational marijuana sales in Illinois, and the second year of legal weed in Michigan.

Meanwhile, the drug is still illegal in the Badger State, despite support from a majority of its residents.

A recent push for new marijuana laws in Wisconsin could impact local businesses.

Ken Majeski owns The CBD Store in Tomahawk. He sells products derived from marijuana, but they have no psychoactive properties. CBD doesn't get you high, but Majeski says it has some health benefits.

"People use it for back pain, sciatica, headaches, menstrual cramps," said Majeski. "I use it myself for tendonitis." 


Majeski is a strong supporter of medical marijuana legalization.

"I don't see much difference between alcohol and marijuana," said Majeski.

He says Wisconsin is behind the curve on the controversial issue.

"We passed medical marijuana referendums by a huge margin," said Majeski. "If that doesn't put pressure on our legislators, I'm not sure having states nearby having it legal will put pressure on them."

However, Wisconsin has seen a push for marijuana legislation on both sides of the political aisle. Last month, Republican State Representative Mary Felzkowski introduced a bill that would legalize medical marijuana for people with specific illnesses and conditions.

"I'm a firm believer in it," said Rep. Felzkowski. "I went through a bad bout of cancer a few years ago, and I would have loved to have had it for some of the afflictions that I had."

Although the bill was shut down, Felzkowski says it's a step in the right direction.

"We would really like to get a committee hearing and start the conversation because there's a lot of misinformation out there," said Rep. Felzkowski.

If medical marijuana were to become legal in Wisconsin, only so many people would be allowed to sell it based on demand. Majeski says he will be one of the first to apply for a license to sell medical marijuana if it ever becomes legal.

"I'm not sure a store like mine could exist and be viable as a CBD only store in a state that has medical marijuana," said Majeski.

The DEA lists marijuana as a schedule one drug, among the likes of heroin and LSD. While representative Felzkowski doesn't support the legalization of recreational marijuana, she thinks it should be decriminalized at the federal level.

"Fines and penalties are one thing, but to make it a felony or misdemeanor, I struggle with that," said Felzkowski.

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"We feed kids here," said Food Service Director Tina Halverson. "That's what I've done for 20 years. Now we're just doing it a little differently."

Staff deliver breakfasts and lunches to students around the district by bus.

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Blood centers across the country saw thousands of cancelled blood drives and donations due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

The Community Blood Center of Wisconsin initially lost more than 700 units of blood the last two weeks but donations are now on the rise. 

"There's always going to be a need for blood whether we are in a pandemic or not," said Community Blood Center Chief Medical Officer Dr. Todd Straus.

Blood donations immediately halted with the rise of Coronavirus cases. Turns out, donating is one of the best ways to help out.

"We were looking at a really big shortage. In response we had to put out a big plea to our donors in the community to try and get in blood donors and I am pleased to say the community response has been wonderful," Straus said.

The local Community Blood Center donation surge was so large the blood centers started scheduling blood donation appointments two weeks out so supply stays stable.

"People are good-hearted individuals, especially in our state. Everyone wants to help out. It's just usually we don't think about it at the time but once we put out the message everyone responded greatly," Straus said.

With the high number of donors during the COVID-19 Pandemic, safety standards rose too.

"We've spaced out our appointment slots, making sure we don't have groups of people at the front door," Straus said.

"Everyone is spaced out from a time standpoint and we've also spaced people out physically in our donor centers so we can make sure the six-feet rules are in place," Straus said.

What's also important right now is that donors who have scheduled an appointment, to keep it.

"We know the need is there but it's not just going to be there today. It's going to be there in two weeks as well," Straus said.

The CBC hopes people remember that need for blood is year-round and there is no alternative way of getting this life-saving treatment. 

"I think people are looking for something to do to help. It's really hard to figure out what you can do to help when you have to stay in your home and this is something we are allowed to do. We are an essential community resource that we need to have. Blood donors have to come out and donate blood, we have no substitute for blood donors," Straus said.

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According to the data firm company, Wisconsin received the grade of "D" after studies show that residents of Wisconsin only cut down their travel by about 19%.

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