Updated: Dane County sheriff disputes Scott Walker pot anecdote

Sheriff Mahoney responds to a supervisor’s question regarding cannabis during the debate over placing an advisory referendum on the Spring 2014 ballot at a Jan. 2014 county board meeting.


Matthew Defour of the Wisconsin State Journal is reporting tonight that Dane County Sheriff Dave Mahoney is disputing a story Gov. Scott Walker told last week at a luncheon in Arizona while the governor was reiterating his opposition to legalizing cannabis.

“”Even there, the Democrat sheriff said to me last year when this issue came up, ‘Whatever you do, please do not sign the legalization of marijuana,'” Walker said. “This was a guy who spent his whole career in law enforcement. He was liberal on a whole lot of other issues. But he said it’s a gateway drug.”

Sheriff Dave Mahoney said Monday he had no recollection of such a conversation.

In fact, Mahoney said, he has never had a one-on-one, sit-down conversation on any topic with Walker since he became governor. Any interactions they’ve had at public events and meetings have been cordial small talk, he said.

“I’d be very interested in knowing when I had a conversation with the governor himself about marijuana,” Mahoney said. “I have no idea when that could have possibly occurred.””

The article goes on to note that while he says he never spoke with Walker, Sheriff Mahoney, a Democrat, does oppose cannabis legalization.

“Mahoney did not dispute the governor’s characterization of his opposition to marijuana legalization, even though the sheriff refrained last year from opposing a county referendum calling on the state to legalize marijuana as Colorado and Washington did in 2012. At the time, he said the issue should be studied for five years to review the effect on health care costs, student performance and behavior, and problems such as absenteeism in the workplace. In an interview Monday he said he opposes legalization.”

Meanwhile, as Cannabadger noted in an earlier post, Dane County officials led by County Executive Joe Parisi are looking at reducing fines for cannabis possession to $10 and other reforms to reduce the harms and inherent inequalities of cannabis prohibition on county citizens.


UPDATE: Tuesday 9:04 am: In an update by Wisconsin State Journal reporter Matthew Defour, it was revealed that Sheriff Mahoney did have a conversation in passing with Scott Walker where Mahoney opposed cannabis legalization:

“Mahoney said Monday he had no recollection of such a conversation, even after Walker’s office said it took place at a Badger State Sheriffs’ Association event on Feb. 11, 2014.

But in an interview with The Devil’s Advocates Radio Show on 92.1 The Mic on Feb. 12, 2014, host Mike Crute asked Mahoney about the conversation, which Walker mentioned earlier that day during an interview with local reporters.

“As he was walking by, I caught the governor and said as you’re looking for ways to save money in the state of Wisconsin, I truly hope that you don’t give into the allure of legalization of marijuana as a means to address our economic issues in the state of Wisconsin,” Mahoney told Crute. “I’m glad the governor’s finally following my advice and I would look forward to him consulting me more.”

After listening to a recording of the radio interview, Mahoney said it “shows that it was a conversation in passing.”

“It did not occur for a specific purpose of discussing this issue of legalization but again as a opportunity in passing,” Mahoney said. “I still welcome any opportunity to have a sit down conversation on a host of topics of concern to law enforcement — just don’t think it will happen.””

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