Residents of Colorado and many other states are allowed by law to place ballot measures on ballots during elections to facilitate the changing of laws by gathering the required signatures to get them on the ballot. That is how the change in Colorado cannabis laws were made. Essentially, they did not need their legislature to agree with them in order to put the question to the people for a vote. The legislature was bound by that vote to make changes the people wanted.
I hear so many folks talking about the “will of the people” but in Wisconsin the will of the people is secondary to the will of our legislature. All changes to laws, creation or removal of laws, or changes to the Constitution can only be made through the legislative process. No ballot measures will appear on ballots to be put to vote by the people, unless they are put there by our legislature.
Wisconsin ballot measures come in two varieties:
1) Legislatively referred constitutional amendment – This is a constitutional amendment that appears on a state’s ballot as a ballot measure because the state legislature voted to put it before the voters. In Wisconsin, Section 1 of Article XII of the State Constitution states that amendments of the Constitution must be approved by two consecutive legislatures, and then put to vote by the citizens.
2) Wisconsin referendum – The referendums on Wisconsin ballots are either a form of legislatively referred state statute or an advisory question.
Wisconsin is one of the 24 states that do not have initiative and referendum.
So if we ever want to see cannabis legalization put before the people of Wisconsin for a vote, first we must convince our legislature to agree to do so. That is the challenge we face and why it is so important to band together and make our case. A large, grass roots movement is the only thing that is going to move our elected officials in the direction we want them to go.