Incarceration is rare for pot-only convictions; coupled with municipal policies, Wisconsin has, in effect, decriminalized marijuana.
In 2019, only 0.23% of all Wisconsin prison admissions were for marijuana cases that did not include more serious crimes.
That means just 21 of the 9,128 people who were sentenced to prison in 2019 were guilty of only a marijuana offense or combination of such offenses, including possession, manufacture and intent to deliver. And of those 21 cases, only three were first-time offenders.
Gov. Tony Evers recently proposed legalizing recreational marijuana and said it would provide more state revenue, create jobs and reduce criminal justice system costs.
In order to determine potential savings in the criminal justice system, the Badger Institute partnered with Court Data Technologies — a Madison firm that analyzes Wisconsin court data — to examine whether judges sentenced individuals convicted of marijuana offenses to prison or jail or neither.