Wisconsin should be the next state to legalize marijuana

The largest dispensary of recreational marijuana in Illinois opened last summer in a strategic and lucrative spot: right along the state line with Wisconsin.

The 7,200-square-foot Sunnyside store in South Beloit, Illinois, is just a 55-mile drive down Interstate 39-90 from Madison. It’s expected to generate $100,000 in local sales tax revenue a year while encouraging additional development, according to South Beloit Mayor Ted Rehl.

One of the biggest givers is Wisconsin. The article in the Rockford newspaper featured a customer from Whitewater making a purchase at the South Beloit dispensary, which is visible from the interstate and employs 35 people. Rehl expects his community’s annual revenue from the store to eventually increase to $700,000 annually — assuming, he said, Wisconsin doesn’t legalize recreational pot.

We sure hope Wisconsin lawmakers are smarter than that. It’s time to recognize reality at the statehouse in Madison: Marijuana isn’t the terrible substance it was made out to be for decades, and Wisconsin is losing millions of dollars in revenue to other states — without effectively stopping the drug’s use.

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