Politician Info

Republican Senator from Racine has not co-sponsored any legislation on marijuana reform since elected in 2010 and most likely will not move is stance of "just say no".   After coming off a nearly 30 year career with the Racine police force, he now serves as the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety.  In April 2019 he wrote an entire op ed piece entitled Is it high time to legalize in Wisconsin? No ... The harmful effects on health and society outweigh any potential benefits

During 2019, the Assembly Republicans prefiled a bill for the 2020 legislative session to create a medical marijuana program in Wisconsin (Senate Bill 683) which he failed to co-sponsor.  Previous legislative sessions adult use and decriminalization bills have failed to advance to even a public hearing under his watch and he is poised to do the same in the 2019-2020 session for Adult Use SB 377 and Decriminalization SB 577.

Holds office State Senate District 21

  • Born Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas, April 1952; married; 2 children, 3 grandchildren.
  • Graduate Racine Lutheran High School, 1970; Racine Police Academy; Wisconsin State Patrol Academy Accident Investigation; Northwestern University Traffic Institute-Reconstruction; U.S. Coast Guard National SAR School; attended John F. Kennedy University, California; University of Wisconsin-Extension; University of Wisconsin-Parkside; Green Bay Technical College; Milwaukee Area Technical College; Fox Valley Technical College.
  • Full-time legislator. Retired traffic investigator, Racine Police Department; adjunct instructor, Gateway Technical College and Northwestern Traffic Institute; police liaison and security, Racine Unified School District.
  • Member: National Rifle Association (life member); Racine County Line Rifle Club (board of directors); Racine Police Credit Union (former president, vice president); Major, Wisconsin Wing, Civil Air Patrol Legislative Squadron (official Auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force).
  • Former member: Racine Zoological Society (board of directors); Racine Jaycees; Racine Police Explorers (advisor); Traffic Accident Consultants, Inc. (board of directors); Association of SWAT Personnel; Racine Innovative Youth Service (board); Hostage Negotiation Team, RAPD; Racine Junior Deputy Sheriffs Association; Racine Alateen (advisor); National Association for Search and Rescue (PSAR chair).
  • Racine Police and Fire Commission, 2003—13 (chair, vice chair, secretary). Racine County Board, 2002—11.
  • Elected to Senate 2010. Reelected since 2014. Leadership positions: Majority Caucus Vice Chair 2015—2017; Majority Caucus Chair 2017, 2019.

Member of Historical Society of Wisconsin, Board of Curators

Position on Medical Marijuana

April 2019 The marijuana from the 1960s and ’70s doesn’t resemble the marijuana of today. It’s been genetically engineered over time to heighten its effects. In fact, marijuana today is three times more potent than it was just 20 years ago, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. In the first three years of Colorado’s legalization, marijuana potency increased nearly 25%. Worse yet, I recently learned from the Milwaukee Police Department that nearly all the marijuana sold in Milwaukee is laced with the highly addictive and dangerous opioid Fentanyl.

While the effects of the new, more powerful strains of THC haven’t been studied in depth, the older, less powerful ones have been studied. The results aren’t encouraging.


“When one looks dispassionately at the evidence, the conclusion is clear. Following marijuana legalization, crime and traffic deaths have spiked. Organized crime and human trafficking have moved in and/or expanded. Hospitalizations and suicides have increased. The research on individual health effects is mixed at best and downright scary at worst. Taxpayers and families bear the burden of these costs—all for less than 1% of state revenues. And by the way, marijuana remains illegal under federal law.” (April 2019)

“For us to do something that allows recreational marijuana, I don’t think you are going to see that in my lifetime in the Senate because it is counterproductive. We’ve got opiate issues and we’ve got heroin issues in our state right now and I believe from my law enforcement background, that marijuana is a gateway drug,” Wanggaard says. 

Wanggaard says he could see Wisconsin legalizing marijuana for medical purposes somewhere down the line – but not for a few more years. Yet the senator is vowing to bring a bill to the Senate floor that would allow the sale of CBD oil for treating seizures.

“This has none of the attributes that marijuana has for being psychotropic. CBD oil is a derivative but it doesn’t have that psychotropic effect,” Wanggaard says. (1/6/17)

Contact Van Wanggaard

Email: Sen.Wanggaard@legis.wisconsin.gov

Web: https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/2019/legislators/senate/1925

Phone: 608-266-1832


State Capitol, Room 316 South Post Office Box 7882

Madison, WI 53707-7882

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