The History of Marijuana in Wisconsin

During the World Wars, hemp was considered a national necessity in the United States, so much that some even consider it a cash crop. Wisconsin was the second largest hemp producer during this time, right behind Kentucky. The state has a history with marijuana that dates back as early as 1908, when hemp was grown experimentally. Wisconsin began to produce an average yield of 1,500 pounds of hemp per acre, which only continued to increase by 1912. Overtime, the nation as a whole viewed marijuana laws differently though, which eventually created the War on Drugs, and ultimately stopped hemp production in Wisconsin. By 1957, Rens Hemp Company was the only hemp producer left in Wisconsin and the United States, which finally closed that year as marijuana control became more of an issue.

Before the United States completely prohibited marijuana, Wisconsin already criminalized the use, sale, and cultivation of marijuana in 1939. Since then, the state has only seen moderate progress, starting in 1996 with the formation of the North American Industrial Hemp Council, an association of farmers, advocates, and legislators promoting industrial hemp. It took the state another 20 years to legalize some form of marijuana when it passed its medical marijuana program in 2014, which allows documented seizure patients access to CBD oil. Legislators are now introducing more bills and pushing for more progress for marijuana laws in Wisconsin.


Right now, cannabis can only be legally purchased through dispensaries or online retailers, but that could change if a group representing corner stores across America gets its way. The lobbying arm of the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) is preparing to fight for the ability of their members to sell weed once it becomes federally legal in America. NACS doesn't have support for federal cannabis policy reform on their official agenda, but that doesn't mean they don't want a piece of the pie if the industry is legalized nationwide.

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