MARINETTE — The Marinette County Public Services Committee on Tuesday failed to pass a resolution opposing the legalization of recreational marijuana in Wisconsin.

A motion by Supervisor Gina Deschane that was seconded by Supervisor George Kloppenburg called for the drafting of a resolution opposing the legalization of recreational marijuana to be voted on next month by the committee failed by a 3-3 vote.

Joining Deschane and Kloppenburg in supporting the motion was Supervisor Chris Gromala. Supervisors Glenn Broderick, Laura Frea and Ken Keller voted “no.”

Corporation Counsel Gale Mattison said the only way the resolution can be revoted on is if one of the supervisors decided they want to reconsider their vote.

Sheriff Jerry Sauve said he was responsible for the meeting agenda having an item calling for the committee to discuss/consider drafting resolution opposing the legalization of recreational marijuana.

He said he’s concerned about the issue because of recreational marijuana being legalized in nearby Michigan and talk by Gov. Tony Evers of the same thing happening in Wisconsin.

“This came up at my request because of what I’ve seen the governor talk about and what our concerns are,” he said. “This is the prelude to working with corporation counsel to establish some type of ordinance.

“I’m becoming quite concerned that we could have some real problems here. I would urge this committee and county board to to establish a resolution and get a discussion going.”

Mattison said the “sheriff is asking if you’re opposed to the legalization of recreational marijuana in Wisconsin. We can draft an ordinance to that effect and then you can pass that if you opt to.”

She said any proposed ordinance would have to also be voted on by the Administrative Committee and county board.

“I just wonder if we should have a referendum,” said Supervisor Mark Anderson, board chairperson, who is not a member of the committee.

Broderick said he was thinking that a referendum would be the best way to deal with the recreational marijuana issue.

Deschane said she favors the legalization of marijuana for medical uses, but not for recreational uses.

“Some people are nuts about it, they think there’s no side effects from recreational marijuana and there are,” she said. “There’s all kinds of issues.”

“The reality is and I hate to say this, but if I wanted to get marijuana tomorrow, I probably could,” Anderson said. “I wish we could stop it, I really do. The reality is if you don’t have enough officers in the world to stop it. I don’t know how my constituents feel in regard to this and I think we should hear from them.”

“As the sheriff of the county, I’m above public safety and highway safety and this (legalization of recreational marijuana) is not in the best interests of highway safety and public safety,” Sauve said. “I appreciate your discussion and I wish it would continue.”

“I would like us to see about getting a lot more information about a referendum,” said Broderick, who cited several counties in Wisconsin where advisory referendums on marijuana have passed.

Mattison explained that the motion that failed because of a 3-3 deadlock, would have stayed alive if it was a recommendation to forward to the county board because of a county ordinance that allows that to happen. 

“The only way that resolution is going to come back in front of this committee is if somebody called for reconsideration,” she said. “If you decide to do a referendum it’s a moot point.”