Pubdate: Thu, 03 Apr 2014
Source: Badger Herald (U of WI, Madison, WI Edu)
Copyright: 2014 Badger Herald
Author: Aaron Loderstager
Note: Aaron Loudenslager is a second-year law student.


Before closing out the legislative session, the Legislature passed a
bill that would legalize cannabidiol, a marijuana by-product, to treat
seizures, sending the bill to Gov. Scott Walker's desk. It is
certainly true that this bill would help people, specifically
children, who have certain medical conditions. Regardless, the bill
does not go far enough because it does not end Wisconsin's failed
policy of marijuana prohibition.

It is currently illegal to possess cannabidiol under Wisconsin law.
This is because cannabidiol is a type of cannabinoid that is found in
THC - one of the main chemical components of marijuana.

But unlike THC, one can't get "high" off cannabidiol. Even so, the
Legislature has not yet legalized cannabidiol.

What explains this? After all, it's not like it's exactly a new
discovery that different chemical components in marijuana may have
medical benefits.

That's why California legalized medical marijuana in 1996. Since then,
19 more states have made the wise choice to legalize medical marijuana.

For example, the federal government in 2003 permitted cannabinoids to
be patented as "antioxidants and neuroprotectants." Further, a study
conducted by researchers at Harvard University on rodents found THC
"cuts tumor growth in common lung cancer in half and significantly
reduces the ability of the cancer to spread."

Many members of the Wisconsin Legislature, like many across the
country, have been resistant to legalize medical marijuana or isolated
chemical components of marijuana, such as cannabidiol, because of
their rhetorical support for "get tough on crime" measures.

Once state legislators legalize medical marijuana or isolated chemical
components of marijuana, they are explicitly or implicitly
acknowledging that marijuana does have accepted medical use - the
opposite finding of Congress when it enacted the Controlled Substances
Act. Thus, to prevent themselves from being branded as "soft on
crime," many state legislators oppose measures to legalize medical
marijuana or isolated chemical components. But this decision by
legislators hurts the many people whose lives could be improved
drastically by the chemicals in marijuana.

Some state legislators don't just oppose efforts to legalize medical
marijuana or isolated chemical components in marijuana though.

Instead, some state legislators are trying to intensify this country's
failed but pervasive drug war. Just last fall, the Legislature passed
a bill that, according to the Associated Press, "would allow for
municipalities to enact ordinances prohibiting possession of any
amount of marijuana and give them the authority to prosecute second

Why is the Legislature trying to, as a practical matter, have more
people arrested for possessing marijuana?

This country's failed anachronistic drug war has led to an
incarceration crisis, with the United States having the highest
incarceration rate in the world.

Not only that, this incarceration because of drug possession is having
a disparate impact on racial minorities. In fact, Wisconsin has the
highest incarceration rate for black men in the country.

Instead of trying to end failed marijuana prohibition, a prohibition
which has had a disparate impact on racial minorities, state
legislators have tried to further intensify marijuana

It is true that the legislation the Legislature passed will greatly
improve the lives of many people with certain medical conditions. Even
so, this legislation should have been enacted years ago. Moreover, it
is time for the Wisconsin Legislature to critically assess the state's
policies on pot. In doing so, it should be evident that marijuana
prohibition has got to go.

Aaron Loudenslager  is a second-year law student.
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