America's opioid epidemic is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of
thousands of people. From 2000 to 2015, over half-a-million Americans
died of opioid abuse and overdose. Ninety-one Americans die every
single day for the same reasons.
While illegal drugs like heroin have contributed greatly to this
epidemic, prescription opioids are the leading cause of overdose and
death for Americans suffering from opioid addiction.
Since 1999, the amount of prescribed opioids in the United States has
nearly quadrupled without a meaningful change in the actual amount of
pain that Americans report to their doctors. In Wisconsin, the rate of
opioid-related deaths has nearly doubled between 2006 and 2015, from
5.9 deaths per 100,000 residents to 10.7 deaths per 100,000.
[continues 642 words]
Thanks for the June 2 editorial, "Possession penalties are too
While any discussion about reforming Wisconsin's draconian marijuana
laws is certainly welcome, decriminalization is an old idea that still
leaves out a legal source for pot.
As your editorial noted, eight states have already legalized pot for
adult use. More states are currently in the process. Our neighbors
Michigan, Illinois and Minnesota, which already have medical
marijuana, are all exploring legalizing adult use.
Wisconsin is ready, too. The July 2016 Marquette Law School Poll found
59 percent favoring legal pot for adults. Wisconsinites also have long
supported medical use by even higher margins. Yet failure to "get it
done" has cost Wisconsin at lot.
[continues 118 words]
MANITOWOC - A listening session hosted by State Rep. Paul Tittl,
R-Manitowoc, and Republican State Sen. Devin LeMahieu Monday was dominated
by talks of legalizing medical marijuana.
Out of the 25 attendees to Monday's listening session, nine people voiced
their support of legalizing medical marijuana in the state. Many cited
mental health issues they believed would be better treated with cannabis
oil than with pharmaceuticals. "It seems there is a numerous amount of
people interested in passing medical marijuana in the State of Wisconsin,"
Tittl said. "I think it is to the point where we should have the
conversation -- I'm not saying whether I am for it or against it -- but I
think more information does need to come out on both sides."
[continues 247 words]
Medical marijuana use should be legal in Wisconsin.
Twenty-eight states -- Arkansas, Florida, North Dakota and Ohio joined in
November -- and the District of Columbia allow for such use. California
was the first to legalize medical marijuana 11 years ago.
There are signs that Wisconsin may eventually adopt that stance. Although
Republicans in the state often have opposed such measures, The Associated
Press reported that state Sen. Van Wanggaard, R-Racine, is circulating a
bill that would make possessing a marijuana extract used to prevent
seizures legal with a doctor's certification.
[continues 451 words]
Dear Editor: Gov. Scott Walker indicated in a recent interview that he
believes the only medical use from the cannabis plant is limited to just
one cannabinoid, cannabidiol (CBD), and only for use for childhood seizure
disorders that don't respond to conventional treatments.
Medical marijuana isn't needed according to "Dr." Walker, because "studies
show medically there are much more viable alternatives within the health
The health care community might beg to differ, having produced more than
22,000 published studies or reviews in the scientific literature
referencing the cannabis plant and its cannabinoids. Marijuana has been
studied more than 85-90 percent of prescription medications.
[continues 170 words]
A marijuana advocacy group has revived an effort to drastically reduce
penalties for being caught with the drug in Monona.
Members of the Madison chapter of the National Organization for the
Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) are circulating a petition that
supports reducing municipal fines for pot possession to $1 in hopes of
placing a binding referendum on the Nov. 8 ballot.
Since mid-May, the group has gathered signatures to try to force action
under the state's direct legislation law after a similar ordinance
change was narrowly defeated by the city's Public Safety Commission
earlier this year.
[continues 492 words]
Surprise and disappointment have turned to a unique history-making
opportunity for a group of people wanting a $1 fine for possession of
marijuana in Monona.
Members of Madison NORML (National Organization for the Reform of
Marijuana Laws), led by President Nate Petreman of Monona, are
collecting signatures to force the issue to a binding direct
legislation referendum on the November ballot. In addition to the $1
fine, the legislation would make possession of marijuana the lowest
priority for Monona police.
[continues 376 words]
Campaigning for president in the liberal oasis of Madison, U.S. Sen.
Bernie Sanders of Vermont rose to the defense of marijuana.
Critical of the nation's war on drugs, Sanders said the lives of
millions of Americans have been "ruined" because they got a police
record for possessing marijuana.
"Today, under the federal Controlled Substance Act, marijuana is
listed in the same Schedule I as heroin. That is nuts," Sanders
declared March 26, 10 days before he defeated Hillary Clinton in
Wisconsin's Democratic primary.
[continues 694 words]
Dane County Pushing Municipalities to Lower Fines for Pot Possession
Dane County Executive Joe Parisi has seen how possession of a small
amount of marijuana can affect families in vastly different ways.
"A young person would get charged with possession of marijuana, and
their family would be facing a fine of over $1,000; that obviously
comes down disproportionately on people living in poverty, and that
can really set them back," Parisi says. "Fines wouldn't get paid,
which would make it difficult or impossible for young people to get a job."
[continues 1048 words]
Considering the article in Wednesday's paper "State rep plans
anti-heroin bills," if Rep. John Nygren really wants to curtail
opiate abuse in Wisconsin, he should consider sponsoring legislation
legalizing the medical use of marijuana.
Research recently published by the nonpartisan National Bureau of
Economic Research found that states that allow patients to access
medical marijuana through dispensaries have reduced rates of opioid
addiction and overdose deaths.
In addition, a 2014 study published in the Journal of the American
Medical Association found that enactment of statewide medicinal
cannabis laws is associated with a 24.8 percent lower state-level
opioid overdose mortality rate.
[continues 72 words]
On Thursday, Gallup released a poll showing that 44 percent of
Americans have said they've tried marijuana, the largest number the
survey has ever recorded.
This isn't too far off from what other polls have found (this Pew
Research Center poll pegged the number at 49 percent), and given that
people are being asked to admit to behavior that is illegal in most
places, the true number is almost certainly higher.
So we're past the point where most American adults have tried pot,
which helps explain why support for legalization has also become a
[continues 851 words]
Public, religious groups, law enforcement coalition support ending
H.L. Mencken defined Puritanism as, "The haunting fear that someone,
somewhere, may be happy." We may think that is something from the
distant past but then we are reminded of it from time to time, even in
21st century Wisconsin.
Legislation which would end the prohibition of the use of cannabis
(a.k.a. marijuana) has been introduced in the Wisconsin Assembly. What
has taken them so long to reform prohibition is a mystery. So far, 23
states and the District of Columbia permit the use of this herb with a
doctor's prescription for medical use. A few states are treating
cannabis more like alcohol.
[continues 363 words]
Menominee Legislator Says Research Must Be Done First
Now that the Menominee tribe's dream of opening a Kenosha casino has
gone up in smoke, the tribe is looking for a new way to raise cash -
Craig Corn, a tribal legislator, opened the door Friday to growing
marijuana on the reservation near Shawano. In a tweet Corn sent out
Friday, the former tribal chairman said: "Now we embark on a new
economic endeavor, it is time to progress forward. We are gonna fast
track a effort to legalize Marijuana."
[continues 819 words]
To the Editor:
Your recent editorial, "Our View: Not everyone is on board with
marijuana enforcement," raises some very valid points.
When President Richard Nixon launched the war on drugs in 1970,
marijuana prohibition was a new thing. But 45 years later it has
become an industry. We have become so conditioned to the negative
indoctrination of almost five decades of anti-pot propaganda that we
often blindly accept it.
In 1997 President Bill Clinton, responding to the legalization of
medical cannabis in California, commissioned the Institute of
Medicine Report on medical cannabis. This federal report was released
in March 1999, and although heavily politicized, still acknowledged
that cannabis had great medical value. It also debunked the so-called
[continues 406 words]
In a governor's race full of twists and turns, it has now come to this:
A national conservative group - a Super PAC supported by the Koch
brothers in the past - is lighting up social media with nine
light-hearted ads promoting the Libertarian candidate for governor,
Robert Burke, because he wants to legalize marijuana.
The videos almost immediately stoked concerns within Democratic
gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke's camp that this was a cynical
Republican ploy meant to peel off young voters or confuse people.
Five of the nine marijuana ads attack Mary Burke, who is opposing GOP
Gov. Scott Walker on Tuesday.
[continues 720 words]
A Madison couple investigated for possessing marijuana and drug
paraphernalia in Baraboo will not be charged with a crime for
possessing the controlled substance.
The Baraboo Police Department and City Attorney Mark Reitz declined to
prosecute the offenses and found the couple provided authorities with
valid Wisconsin medical marijuana prescriptions.
While investigating a complaint about a dog left in the vehicle of
Greg and Karen Kinsley on Sept. 13 at the Sauk County Fairgrounds,
Baraboo Police Sgt. Mark Lee and Det. Jeremy Drexler spotted a
marijuana pipe through the car window. The officers confiscated it
along with a small amount of marijuana after resolving the pet issue.
[continues 457 words]
Dear Editor: Despite popular support, medical cannabis has had a rough
time gaining traction at the Capitol. Early in 2014, both houses
unanimously passed a hastily and poorly drafted restrictive medical
marijuana bill that required federal approval to use an extract
containing only cannabidiol, one of the 60-plus cannabinoids in
whole-plant cannabis. Not one patient has gained access under the new
After this debacle, state medical marijuana advocates came together to
find a new way. A grass-roots campaign was created and raised $7,500
for a billboard to call out opponents and create more public awareness
and support for passing comprehensive legislation like the Jacki
Rickert Medical Cannabis Act.
[continues 172 words]
A married couple so far has avoided marijuana charges after providing
Baraboo police with doctors' notes and other documentation during an
incident in which they were found with a small amount of pot and a
smoking pipe during a local political event Saturday.
Baraboo Police Department Sgt. Mark Lee and Det. Jeremy Drexler
investigated a report of a dog left in a car during Fighting Bob Fest
at the Sauk County Fairgrounds in Baraboo. While speaking with Madison
residents Greg and Karen Kinsey about the complaint, the officers
reported seeing a marijuana pipe through the car window. Police
confiscated it along with a small amount of marijuana found in the
car, though the issue involving the pet was resolved.
[continues 802 words]
Dear Editor: Thanks for publishing Gary Storck's thoughtful letter:
"Best help for ALS may be to legalize medical marijuana." I'd like to
add that cannabis not only treats ALS and many types of cancer, it can
help prevent these diseases.
I strongly suggest the readers read Clint Werner's book "Marijuana,
Gateway to Health: How cannabis protects us from cancer and Alzheimer's
Why has our government not informed us about the many health benefits
of cannabis? Because research into cannabis' therapeutic effects is
blocked by the government due to its classification in the most
restricted category of the Controlled Substances Act of 1970.
Our government can only research and fund research into the potential
harms of cannabis, but never any benefits. Is something wrong with
this situation? I certainly think so.
Dear Editor: The "ice bucket challenge" to raise awareness about ALS is
all the rage among politicians these days, including Wisconsin Gov.
Scott Walker and his wife, Tonette.
As there are few conventional treatments for ALS, perhaps the best way
to help those suffering would be to instead advocate for legalizing
medical cannabis in Wisconsin.
In May, I attended a conference in Portland, Ore., presented by
Patients Out of Time, "The Endocannabinoid System and Age-Related Illnesses."
In a presentation on ALS and cannabis, Dr. Gregory T. Carter, a
clinical professor at the University of Washington, stated that
medical cannabis is "almost custom-made to treat ALS. It dries the
mouth up, relieves pain, eases muscle spasms, improves the appetite,
and may well have a disease-modifying effect."
[continues 152 words]
Doctors in Wisconsin Worried About FDA Provision in New Cannabidiol
Madison - Nine-year-old Nicholas Volker asks his mother every day when
he'll be able to get the medicine that could end the scores of
seizures that shake his body every day.
His disheartened mother, Amylynne Santiago Volker, tells him, "Not
Two months after Gov. Scott Walker signed into law a measure allowing
the use of cannabidiol, a marijuana derivative used to treat
epileptics without giving them a high, Wisconsinites have not yet been
able to access the drug. That's in part because of obstacles written
into the legislation at the last minute.
[continues 1117 words]
WAUSAU - If you have a stereotype in mind about who wants to change
marijuana prohibition laws, the meeting held Saturday afternoon at
the Marathon County Public Library likely would have broken it.
The Northern Wisconsin chapter of the National Organization for the
Reform of Marijuana Laws held its Talking Hemp and Cannabis Tour
event there, a two-hour event that was part political action
movement, part economic development sales pitch and an all-out rebuke
of the political and legal system that has declared the so-called war on drugs.
[continues 427 words]
Dear Editor: I have suffered from glaucoma and other serious medical
conditions since birth. Thirty-five years ago, my ophthalmologist wrote
in a letter, "I am familiar with reports that marijuana lowers
intraocular pressure in many people who have glaucoma. If marijuana were
available for me to prescribe to this patient, I would be willing to do
so, in the hope it would adequately control his condition with fewer
side effects than the medications currently available."
Eight years earlier, when I had smoked marijuana before a checkup,
another eye doctor found my usually highly elevated eye pressures were
[continues 189 words]
Lydia Schaeffer, the 7-year-old girl with a rare genetic disorder
whose plight inspired lawmakers to legalize a marijuana extract to
treat her condition despite their opposition to medical marijuana,
has died. Lydia's mother, Sally Schaeffer, had been lobbying the
state legislature to legalize the drug, an experimental extract from
cannabis plants known as Charlotte's Web, for use on children with
seizure disorders. The lawmakers moved to pass the law in record time
and Gov. Scott Walker (R) signed the bill in April. But Lydia, who
died in her sleep on Mother's Day, never got a chance to try the
treatment because the law's implementation was still being worked out.
The approval of a marijuana derivative to ease seizure disorders in
children came surprisingly fast in the state Legislature this spring,
but sadly not soon enough for 7-year-old Lydia Schaeffer.
Lydia died in her sleep Sunday at home in Burlington before she had a
chance to try the treatment that her mother, Sally Schaeffer, fought
so hard to legalize in Wisconsin.
"I kept thinking to myself we've just got to buy Lydia some time,
we've just got to buy her some time. And I guess we didn't buy
enough," Sally said Tuesday.
[continues 789 words]
MARSHFIELD - Marijuana use could increase heart attack risk, according
to a study with input from local doctors published Wednesday in the
Journal of the American Heart Association.
"Most people think marijuana is safe to use ... even some doctors, but
it was found that it can give you significant health problems," said
Marshfield Clinic cardiologist Dr. Shereif Rezkalla, who wrote the
editorial that accompanied the study.
About 2 percent of marijuana-related health complications reported
between 2006 and 2010 to the French Addictovigilance Network, which
monitors drug abuse, were cardiovascular complications, including
heart attacks and strokes.
[continues 355 words]
Dear Editor: It was good to see Gov. Scott Walker sign legislation
legalizing a form of medical marijuana to treat pediatric seizure
disorders. However, Walker's signature does not mean that the
children, whose stories moved usually stern lawmakers to tears, will
see their medicine anytime soon.
According to Paul Armentano, deputy director of the National
Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, under the law,
multiple federal agencies will have to give their approval - "a
process that typically takes several years." Given Walker's rejection
of billions in federal aid for high-speed rail and Medicaid, why is
he now deferring to federal regulators to make critical decisions
regarding the health of state children?
[continues 166 words]
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.
[continues 485 words]
When newspapers present an editorial, they have a responsibility to
inform their readers accurately. The Journal Times recently failed
miserably, "Legalize CBD to treat epilepsy" (March 16).
You seem to be confusing the medical cannabis strain from which the
CBD hemp oil is being extracted, "Charlotte's Web", with the
cannabinoid cannabidiol (CBD). CBD and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are
two of almost a hundred therapeutically active cannabinoids and other
compounds found in whole plant cannabis. These compounds like
cannabis plants continue to be classified by federal authorities as
Schedule One drugs with no medical uses and a high potential for abuse.
[continues 170 words]
We recognize that Gov. Scott Walker and the Republican majority in
both houses of the Legislature aren't rushing to join Colorado and
Washington state in legalizing marijuana. Walker has said "I think
it's a big jump between someone having a beer and smoking marijuana,"
and we recognize he's not alone among Wisconsinites in that point of
view. In December, we advocated a wait-and-see approach, i.e., first
watch how legalization plays out in those two states.
[continues 625 words]
Lawmakers Like Rep. John Spiros Should Inform Themselves About Therapeutic Pot
After more than 75 years of marijuana prohibition, questioning the
reefer madness misinformation that has sustained it for so long has
proven to be difficult for some.
Take Rep. John Spiros, R-Marshfield, for example. Spiros, a former
police officer, was so convinced by emotional committee testimony
that a form of medical marijuana, cannabidiol or CBD, can help
relieve seizures in children, that he helped vote the bill, Assembly
Bill 726, out of committee in a bipartisan 7-1 vote.
[continues 421 words]
Despite more support for the legislation than ever before among
Wisconsin lawmakers, an ongoing effort to legalize marijuana for
medical use in the state appears to be headed nowhere.
Even with unprecedented public support and backing from more members
of the Legislature than at any time in history, sponsors admit the
bill is likely to fail again.
So far, 21 states have legalized and established a system to regulate
marijuana for medical purposes. In Wisconsin, a version of the bill
failed in 2009 after a dramatic public showdown between state Sens.
Leah Vukmir and Jon Erpenbach, and another version died in committee in 2012.
[continues 1851 words]
The Courier is correct that nothing happened after 159,454 voters, a
75.49 percent margin, voted in favor of the Dane County medical
marijuana advisory referendum passed in Nov. 2010, "Our view:
Marijuana referendum a waste of time" on Dec. 11.
The referendum asked state lawmakers to pass a state medical cannabis
law. It outpolled every other candidate or referendum in almost every
ward in Dane County. A similar referendum in the City of River Falls,
received 68 percent of the vote.
[continues 242 words]
Our state's hesitation to pass progressive laws and its attack on union
workers has left it less desirable to younger generations. Young adults
may be more inclined to move out of state to locales that better match
their ideals and interests.
My husband and I moved back to Wisconsin after several years living in
other states. We agreed that Wisconsin had the ideal mix of recreation,
business and proximity to family that we wanted. However, many of our
friends had already left the state or moved shortly after our return. I
believe that this could be an indication of a larger trend related to
recent policy changes or lack thereof.
[continues 532 words]