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]
State Sen. Jon Erpenbach, D-Middleton, and Rep. Chris Taylor,
D-Madison, recently introduced legislation that would place an
advisory referendum on the November 2018 general election ballot
asking state voters if they support legalizing medical cannabis.
In 2012, after Washington and Colorado voters passed initiatives
legalizing cannabis for adult use, the Associated Press published an
article looking at potential legalization in other states.
Wisconsin was included: "Republican Gov. Scott Walker said ... he's
not interested in legalizing marijuana. The only way he sees it
happening is if state residents approve the idea in a referendum
similar to Colorado and Washington."
Walker has not weighed in on the advisory referendum proposal since it
was introduced, but his 2012 comments to the AP certainly suggest he
should welcome Sen. Erpenbach and Rep. Taylor's proposal to let voters
Gary Storck, Madison
Much has changed in the cannabis world since Russ Feingold lost to
Ron Johnson in 2010.
Then, about 15 states had legalized medical cannabis, a number now at
25. Today, four states and Washington, D.C., have legalized adult
use. This November, at least three more will vote on medical, and
five more will vote on adult use.
Feingold's record has been thin. While cannabis activists extensively
advocated for his support, he never sponsored any bills.
The federal CARERS Act would make it easier for researchers to study
marijuana. It is sponsored by U.S. Sens. Cory Booker, D-New Jersey,
Kirsten Gillibrand, D-New York, and Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, and has 19
cosponsors including U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison.
[continues 88 words]
A majority of Wisconsinites want marijuana to be legal and regulated
like alcohol, a new poll shows.
Results were released Wednesday for the Marquette Law School Poll, a
leading measure of public opinion in the Badger State.
The poll asked registered voters: "When it comes to marijuana, some
people think that the drug should be fully legalized and regulated
like alcohol. Do you agree or disagree with that view?"
Fifty-nine percent of respondents said they agreed, while 39 percent disagreed.
[continues 166 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]
Another Marquette Law School poll is out. But once again, no
questions about cannabis legalization were asked. One has to go all
the way back to September 2014 for that.
Each time a poll is released, it gets massive media attention. The
issues raised by the poll trigger public discussion and shape the
state debate. By failing to include public opinions on cannabis,
Marquette is stifling debate. Is that for political reasons?
Wisconsinites are not oblivious to developments in other states.
Twenty-six states now have some sort of medical cannabis law,
including Louisiana, where a formerly symbolic law passed in 1978 was
recently amended to create a workable state medical cannabis program.
Wisconsin passed a similar law in 1982. In Alaska, Colorado, Oregon,
Washington State and Washington D.C., voters have legalized the adult
use of cannabis, and more states will be voting on medical and adult
use this November.
Here in Wisconsin the topic apparently has been declared taboo. This
represents a grave disservice to state voters. Professor Charles
Franklin and the Marquette Law School poll must do better if they
care about their mission.
- -- Gary Storck, Madison
News reports on the rapidly rising use of Narcan by Wisconsin first
responders to revive people suffering opiate overdoses show the
state's opiate crisis is continuing to escalate. This comes despite
passage of many laws over the last two sessions intended to address
Wisconsin could address both the issue of opiate abuse and the huge
need for safer pain medications by passing state medical cannabis legislation.
In Maine, where medical cannabis was legalized by voters in 1999,
work has begun on adding "addiction to opiates and drugs derived from
chemical synthesis" to the list of qualifying conditions that may be
treated with medical cannabis.
[continues 90 words]
Thursday's letter "Listen to the people about marijuana" reminds me
how difficult it was for Colorado citizens to cleanse ourselves of
cannabis (marijuana) prohibition.
If it weren't for the initiative process, the sky would still be
falling in. Cannabis prohibitionists used every historically
discredited lie, half-truth and propaganda they could muster, and
then we voted. Like Colorado, the majority of Wisconsin citizens also
support ending cannabis prohibition. But without the initiative
process available to voters, government subsidized cannabis
prohibitionists will continue ignoring citizens.
A sane or moral reason does not exist to continue punishing and
caging responsible adults who use the relatively safe, extremely
popular, God-given plant as described on literally the very first
page of the Bible.
- -- Stan White, Dillon, Colorado
The Monona Public Safety Commission forgot two important things in
its flawed vote to not reduce pot fines.
In 2010 and 2014, the Dane County Board placed cannabis-related
advisory referendums on county ballots. In 2010, county voters
supported legalizing medical cannabis with 76 percent of the vote.
And in Monona, voters gave it an even larger edge with 78 percent in favor.
In April 2014, Dane County voted in favor of legalizing adult use of
cannabis with 65 percent support. Monona again exceeded the county
with 67 percent in favor.
[continues 85 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]
When we learn of the accidental murder of a baby by shooters intending
to hit a rival drug dealer two doors away, it's time to think about what
might be done to stop such madness.
Because one-issue gun advocates are willing to spend unlimited money
to sway an election, we cannot regulate possession of firearms or
ammunition. It may be time to carefully consider whether we can tamp
down the greed that propels this violence. That means examining
whether legalizing drugs would result in fewer deaths.
[continues 58 words]
Madison Police Chief Mike Koval came out in support of legalizing
marijuana last week.
Below, you'll find some of his expanded comments from an interview
with the State Journal in which he endorsed legalizing the drug and
using tax revenue from its sale to support drug treatment programs.
The comments came soon after Koval said his department must enforce
laws against marijuana because the state prohibits it. Asked how he
would like Wisconsin to treat the drug, Koval responded:
"I would like us to see -- much like we've seen in those pioneering
states (Washington and Colorado) -- a discussion of decriminalizing
it, regulating it, taxing it, and then using the funds and monies
generated .. (for) treatment programs, drug courts and other things
that go to the core of our more substantive drug users."
[continues 257 words]
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, said legislators have done
what they can and can't force doctors to prescribe cannabidiol oil.
Gov. Scott Walker says it's frustrating, but he's not sure what to do.
These are not the words of leaders. All this was known before the
bill was even drafted.
As a lifelong glaucoma patient, I lobbied for the Therapeutic
Cannabis Research Act, which state lawmakers passed in 1982. After
the act was enacted, state regulators advised me federal approval was needed.
[continues 98 words]
Regarding Chris Rickert's Sunday column, "Why have two drugs to
abuse?," the days when politicians can get away with confusing the
drug war's tremendous collateral damage with a comparatively harmless
plant are coming to an end.
If the goal is to deter use, marijuana prohibition is a catastrophic
failure. The United States has almost double the rate of marijuana
use as the Netherlands where marijuana is legal, according to a 2008
World Health Organization survey.
The criminalization of Americans who prefer marijuana to martinis has
no basis in science. The war on marijuana consumers is a failed
cultural inquisition, not an evidence-based public health campaign.
Not just in Colorado but throughout the nation, it's time to stop the
pointless arrests and instead tax legal marijuana.
- -- Robert Sharpe, Washington, D.C., policy analyst, Common Sense for Drug Policy
Legalize pot in Wisconsin? Sure, as long as it isn't sold as any more
of a "medicine" than the most popular legal high (alcohol). In the
area of government-sanctioned inebriation, what's fair should be
fair. Besides, pot advocates have had some decent reasons for saying
theirs is the safer buzz.
And then I read about a man in Colorado - where marijuana is already
legal - who reportedly shot his wife after eating too much pot-laced
candy. Another man ate too many marijuana-infused cookies and jumped
off a hotel balcony to his death.
[continues 691 words]
Dane County voters have the opportunity April 1 to vote on the
national debate over legalizing cannabis. Vote "yes" on Advisory
Referendum 2, which asks, "Should the state government enact
legislation legalizing marijuana?"
While Wisconsin has some of the worst pot laws in the Midwest, 20
states now have legalized medical cannabis. And two of those, Colorado
and Washington, tax and regulate adult use. Other states are also
considering legalization. Polling has found majority support for
cannabis legalization in 18 states and Washington, D.C.
[continues 118 words]
A weekly feature on proposed changes to state and local law.
In a nutshell
Current law prohibits a person from possessing, manufacturing or
This bill (AB480, SB363) creates a medical use defense to
marijuana-related prosecutions and fines, and prohibits the arrest or
prosecution of people who are registered with the Department of
Health Services (DHS) and have certain debilitating medical
conditions or treatments.
People who are registered could possess 12 marijuana plants and 3
ounces of marijuana leaves or flowers. They would be prohibited from
operating a motor vehicle or heavy machinery or engaging in any other
conduct that endangers the health or well being of another person
while under the influence of marijuana.
[continues 487 words]
Thanks for Monday's editorial, "Let them smoke pot -- for medicine."
In discussing Illinois' new law, you stated the rules that regulate
how much, when and how users can obtain medical cannabis are "about
But a major flaw is the failure to include home cultivation. The
people this bill is intended to help must wait until an expensive and
complex production and distribution system is created. Allowing
patients or caregivers to grow their own plants means immediate treatment.
Home cultivation is allowed in most of the states cited in your
editorial. And judging by the experiences of other states such as New
Jersey, which claims to have the toughest law yet, it may take years
to set up dispensaries. New Jersey has only one dispensary, and the
bill was passed in 2010.
[continues 72 words]
In general, we're not keen on looking to Illinois for leadership and
direction on, well, almost anything.
But Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn did the right thing last week when he
signed into law a bill that approves medical marijuana for Illinois
residents, making our neighbor to the south the 20th state, along
with the District of Columbia, to legalize pot for medical purposes.
Wisconsin should step up and do the same, an act that would give our
residents who suffer from many debilitating conditions the same
relief that is available now in nearly half the country.
[continues 295 words]
Dear Editor: Regarding Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen's
July 6 column, the use of so-called synthetic marijuana is an
unintended side effect of the war on natural marijuana. Consumers are
turning to potentially toxic drugs made in China and sold as research
chemicals before being repackaged as legal incense. Expanding the
drug war will only add to the highest incarceration rate in the
world. Chinese chemists will tweak formulas to stay one step ahead of
the law and two steps ahead of the drug tests. New versions won't be
any safer. Misguided efforts to protect children from drugs are
putting children at risk.
[continues 91 words]