Wisconsin's state Capitol grounds recently saw an unexpected and illegal flourish of green, and we're not talking about the tulips. Someone's possible plans to harvest what appeared to be marijuana plants outside the Capitol have gone up in smoke after workers removed dozens of the leafy suspects from the garden.

The cannabis conundrum sprouted in a tulip garden, and it didn't take long for people to notice the unusual addition to the floral display. University of Wisconsin-Madison botanist Shelby Ellison examined the plants and confirmed they were indeed cannabis. However, she couldn't specify if they were marijuana, which contains the psychoactive compound THC, or hemp, which doesn't get you high.

Credit: WMTV | News, Weather & Sports YouTube Channel
Credit: WMTV | News, Weather & Sports YouTube Channel

Tatyana Warrick, a spokesperson for the state Department of Administration, confirmed the plants' removal but stated that her agency lacked the expertise to identify them as either marijuana or hemp-based plants. Ellison suggested that the sheer number of plants indicated they were likely planted or scattered there intentionally, rather than being an accident.

This botanical brouhaha highlights the ongoing debates about marijuana in Wisconsin, where the devil 's-lettuce remains illegal in all forms. Despite efforts by some lawmakers to introduce bills for medical legalization, these measures haven't found enough support in the state Senate to progress.

Credit: WMTV | News, Weather & Sports YouTube Channel
Credit: WMTV | News, Weather & Sports YouTube Channel

Midwest Musings: A Tale of Three States

The Midwest is a mixed bag when it comes to marijuana laws. In Wisconsin and Iowa, marijuana is still very much illegal, keeping these states firmly in the no-toke zone. Meanwhile, their neighbor Illinois has embraced the high life, legalizing recreational marijuana for those 21 and older. This creates a patchwork of legality that's as confusing as it is controversial. Quick question: How well do imaginary lines (borders) stop illegal commerce and product movement? Just some food for thought...

Credit: National Conference of State Legislatures
Credit: National Conference of State Legislatures

The National Buzz: Federal Changes on the Horizon

Nationally, there's a lot of chatter about potential changes to federal marijuana laws. President Biden has thrown his support behind the Justice Department's move to reclassify marijuana from a Schedule I to a Schedule III drug. Currently, Schedule I drugs, like heroin and LSD, are considered to have no medical use and a high potential for abuse. Schedule III drugs, on the other hand, have recognized medical uses and a moderate to low potential for dependence. This group includes substances like testosterone and Tylenol with codeine.

Credit: Canva
Credit: Canva

Reclassifying marijuana would not make it legal nationwide, but it would signal a significant shift in how the federal government views the plant. It would also ease some restrictions, making research easier and potentially reducing legal penalties. However, each state would still have the final say on its own marijuana laws.

So, Where is Marijuana Legal?

Credit: Canva
Credit: Canva

Here's a handy list of states where marijuana is legal for recreational use:

  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Illinois
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Montana
  • Nevada
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • Oregon
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • Washington D.C.

And here's where it's legal only for medical use:

  • Alabama
  • Arkansas
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Hawaii
  • Louisiana
  • Maryland
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • New Hampshire
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Pennsylvania
  • South Dakota
  • Utah
  • West Virginia

What Exactly Does Rescheduling Mean for Most States?

Credit: Canva
Credit: Canva

For many states, especially those in the Midwest like Wisconsin and Iowa where marijuana is still illegal, rescheduling would primarily change the federal landscape. It would make scientific research more feasible and could lead to reduced penalties for marijuana-related offenses. However, it wouldn't override state laws. So, while the feds might be easing up (slightly), it's still up to state legislatures to decide whether or not to let their citizens spark up.

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Overall the discovery of cannabis plants on Wisconsin's Capitol grounds is actually quite humorous, and it's a telling episode in the ongoing saga of marijuana legalization. It reflects the current confusion and evolving attitudes toward cannabis both in the Midwest and nationwide. As laws continue to change, the hope is for clearer, more consistent regulations emphasizing testing and refinement, for both medicinal purposes and a concise understanding of the positives and negatives of full deregulation or regulated legalization. For now, though, Wisconsin and Iowa remain a no-toke zone for the ganja, while neighboring Illinois rolls with a more "relaxed" vibe.

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