Committee chair Rep. Kleefisch says no to pot legalization on Devil’s Advocates Radio show

Rep. Joel Kleefisch (R-Oconomowoc). Official photo.
Rep. Joel Kleefisch (R-Oconomowoc). Official photo.

Rep. Joel Kleefisch (R-Oconomowoc) was a guest on the Devil’s Advocate Radio Show on July 28, and hosts Dom and Crute naturally asked him about pot. This is good because Joel Kleefisch chairs the Assembly Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety. That committee is where AB224, Rep. Melissa Sargent’s hybrid adult use/medical cannabis bill and AB246, Rep. Mandela Barnes’ broad decriminalization bill were assigned earlier this year after their introduction, and where they have been sitting ever since.

Listen to The Devil’s Advocates Radio podcast with Rep. Kleefisch

Kleefisch has not scheduled a hearing on either bill as of this writing and has offered no indication that he might, but it is clear from listening to the podcast that he could definitely benefit from the kind of expert testimony he’d certainly be exposed to if he did hold hearings.

I listened to the podcast and transcribed a few quotes I thought were worth noting. Kleefisch is asked about legalization but begins by calling cannabis “the gateway” and discusses the dangers of “harsh” drugs like heroin. But, he eventually opines: “Well somebody whose caught with a little weed we shouldn’t lock the door and throw away the key, and I don’t think anyone would dispute that.”

From The Devil's Advocates Radio Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/thedevilsadvocatesradio?fref=ts
From The Devil’s Advocates Radio Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/thedevilsadvocatesradio?fref=ts

After veering into praising Waukesha County alcohol courts, Kleefisch was asked again:

Dom: Joel, Do you foresee any circumstance whereby you would support the repeal of prohibition on marijuana here in the state of Wisconsin?

JK: “I don’t see that now no and I’ll tell you why. I think that there are flaws in the medical marijuana argument. My father in law was diagnosed at age 51 with pancreatic cancer and he died 4 months later, never met his grandkids, but he was given a drug called Marinol which is a synthetic form of tetrahydrocannabinol, so we already have medical remedies for the use of THC.”

Clearly, Rep. Kleefisch, has not done his homework on the subject of  cannabis and MARINOL® (dronabinol). Marinol is FDA approved to treat nausea and vomiting associated with cancer chemotherapy in patients who have failed to respond adequately to conventional treatments and to treat appetite loss associated with weight loss in people with AIDS. But it can only treat symptoms while whole plant cannabis is a superior treatment for pain, nausea and vomiting and has been scientifically shown to be a potent cancer-killer.

As Kleefisch began to say something else about medical, Dom interrupted him.

Dom: And what about the recreational use of it?

JK: “Ahh, the recreational use. I guess one of the toughest things about that is you can argue that you can socially drink but you can’t really socially smoke marijuana.”

Crute: “Who says? C’mon, You ever been to college Joel?”

JK: “I did go to college but can honestly say I never took a puff.”

Interesting to note is that Kleefisch’s response echoes what Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said to reporters after speaking to Wisconsin Sheriffs Feb. 11, 2014:

“If I’m at a wedding reception here and somebody has a drink or two, most people wouldn’t say they’re wasted. Most folks with marijuana wouldn’t be sitting around a wedding reception smoking marijuana. Now there are people who abuse (alcohol), no doubt about it, but I think it’s a big jump between someone having a beer and smoking marijuana.” — Scott Walker

You can listen to the rest of his comments on The Devil’s Advocates.

If you are a constituent of Rep. Kleefisch or a concerned citizen who wants to urge that as chair of the Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety he should schedule public hearings on AB224 and AB246, you can reach him through his official Assembly web page.

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