I first heard of the new Wisconsin cannabis law reform group Freedom To Choose on WORT Madison Community Radio’s nightly local news program In Our Backyard yesterday. Several members of the group had done an interview earlier which was distilled into a segment for the news broadcast. The short clips that together made up the interview laid out the group’s approach and as a longtime cannabis activist in Wisconsin I was truly impressed.
Freedom To Choose is also having a Homegrown Comedy Fundraiser at Genna’s Nightclub in downtown Madison Thursday night. Genna’s is just off Capitol Square in downtown Madison.
In the WORT interview, Freedom To Choose members discussed some of their plans, creating a PAC, working with other groups, etc. Indeed, when I contacted my friend Nate at Madison NORML, he said they had actually been at NORML’s meeting Monday night.
Freedom To Choose said their goal is to engage all of Wisconsin and that all races and creeds are represented from all over the state.
I reached out to Freedom To Choose for some Q&A and you can read their responses below. If you are in the Madison area, don’t forget their Homegrown Comedy fundraiser at Genna’s this Thursday at 8pm.
Cannabadger: When was Freedom to Choose formed?
Freedom To Choose: Freedom to Choose formed in March 2015.
Cannabadger: Is the benefit your first event?
Freedom To Choose: Our first event was the “Freedom to Choose” Information Session on June 5, 2015 at The Yellow Rose Gallery.
The Freedom to Choose “Homegrown Comedy” event will be our first fundraiser. Although we are a volunteer based group that largely relies on the passion and support of the community, there are costs that are difficult to avoid, such as printing!
Cannabadger: What would you say are the mission and goals of Freedom to Choose?
Freedom To Choose: Who We Are:
Freedom to Choose (FTC) is a Coalition of Wisconsin citizens, organizations and businesses dedicated to regulation of marijuana for recreational and medical use. We believe Marijuana Prohibition has failed. It is time to make amends and join our fellow states in changing marijuana policy in America.
Following the model of successful campaigns in Colorado, Washington, Alaska, Oregon, and Washington DC, we aim to use the Initiative and Referendum process at a city/village level. Utilizing the rapidly growing number of like-minded groups in a diverse range of cities in Wisconsin, Freedom to Choose will implement a united ballot initiative in multiple cities throughout the state.
Cannabadger: You mentioned local binding referendums on your WORT interview. This is a strategy I like but previous efforts by other groups have come up short so far. What does Freedom to Choose think is needed to score a win?
Freedom To Choose: We are a Coalition because we believe the missing element in the Wisconsin Marijuana Movement is a collaborative effort of organizations that have been working separately until now. There is a rapidly growing number of Wisconsin citizens, organizations, and businesses putting in good work towards this cause. Our proposed strategy joins these efforts to create a larger impact. We are providing an umbrella for a unified collaboration and referendum process. This is an opportunity for a diverse-unified group of people to come together for a cause that covers issues across age, race, class and gender. We have already seen this happening. We are working with groups that focus on issues ranging from the disproportionate incarceration rates for marijuana possession to organizations that do research on epilepsy and marijuana’s medical benefits, as well as groups that just plain believe in the freedom of choice! Better care for vets, solutions for the economy and better safety for our children are just a few additional areas our initiative will address. By connecting with United Council, the state-wide student government for the University of Wisconsin system, we will also be working with students who are already active on their campuses concerning the wide variety of issues listed above.
We believe this is the right time. There is a national trend toward legalization and we don’t want Wisconsin to be left behind. Wisconsin was the last state to end prohibition of alcohol. Let’s not make the same mistake again!
Cannabadger: What kind of future events are you planning?
Freedom To Choose: We are planning another event for end of July/early August that will involve more of our coalition partners.
Currently we are focused on Freedom to Choose awareness and creating an official list of participating groups. It is growing everyday!
In late August/early September, we will do a College Tour in collaboration with United Council. This will line up with the 60 day petition signing period for the united ballot initiative, which we project to end mid/late October.
We can continue to update you on events as we go along.
Cannabadger: Legalization of even medical cannabis has been a tough sale even in Wisconsin. State law still sets a felony for second offense possession of any amount of cannabis. With the current GOP majority seemingly cool to any kind of reform, how can group like Freedom to Choose break the logjam?
Freedom To Choose: According to past advisory referendums in Dane County, an overwhelming majority of voters are in favor of legalization. This campaign, effectively, takes the decision out of the hands of politicians and puts it into the hands of the people. Colorado, Alaska, Oregon and Washington were all able to pass with a 55% majority vote. This issue is quickly becoming a bipartisan issue. While some people may be slower than others to come around, with the precedent of so many legalized states, it is an issue that can no longer be cornered as being of one party or another.
Cannabadger: Is there anything else you want to share?
Freedom To Choose: This is the time! 5 years ago, we couldn’t have imagined being where we are now as a nation. As a coalition, we can show that change is possible when people come together. Let’s keep the ball rolling!