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UPDATED: Cannabis comes up twice in first debate between Scott Walker and Tony Evers

UPDATED: 10/22/2018: On Friday, October 19, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Wisconsin Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers met for their first gubernatorial election debate. The subject of legalizing cannabis was raised twice, first surprisingly by Walker himself, later as a question from, one of the panel of moderators that quizzed the two candidates.

The Cannabadger Guide to the 2018 Wisconsin County Cannabis Advisory Referendums

It’s unusual for Walker to volunteer his position on cannabis legalization so it was surprising that while responding to a question asking if a first offense drunk driving ticket should be a criminal offense, he veered sharply into talking about his opposition to cannabis legalization. The governor then  cited what he said was a report out of Canada which he said found there were more “vehicle-related” crashes from drivers impaired on drugs than alcohol. But cannabis is just a subset of all substances drivers might have in their system from prescription meds to heroin and meth. Cannabis metabolites remain in the body for days or even weeks after use, so the mere presence of cannabis does not denote recent use or impairment.

“And beyond, that’s part of the reason why I’ve raised concerns after talking to law enforcement people and public health people about legalizing marijuana. I just saw a report from Canada that said I believe in Canada now they actually see a higher number of vehicle-related crashes related to drugs as opposed to alcohol. We need to make sure we don’t have any impaired driving whether its alcohol-related or drug-related as well.”

Just a few minutes later, La Movida radio’s Lupita Montoto asked the candidates, “And the topic is marijuana. Canada just legalized marijuana for adults, with regulation. In Wisconsin, 16 counties have marijuana referendum questions on the ballot. Should any form of marijuana use be legalized in Wisconsin? This question is for both of you.” (See second comment from bottom below.)

Tony Evers went first and here is his response:

“Yes. As a cancer survivor I absolutely believe that we must have, physicians must have the ability to use cannabis in treatment and so that is a given. The second thing is we have to decriminalize the use of marijuana. We have people who are suffering mightily because they broke that law. Third of all, we are having referendums all over the state and we continue to do it. I’m willing to take a look at that, at the results of those referenda and possibly support (Moderator says time is up) legalization.”

Gov. Walker followed, delivering his standard response to questions regarding legalizing cannabis in Wisconsin, citing the debunked so-called “gateway theory” and supposed pleas from law enforcement and public health officials not to legalize cannabis:

“Well for years I’ve listened to public health officials and law enforcement officials, even here in Dane County, who’ve pleaded with us not to legalize marijuana ’cause they’re concerned it’s a gateway drug to other drugs and we’ve seen the addictions with opioids, with heroin, with meth in certain parts of the state. So yeah, per your point about the juice, we’ve actually used that, we’ve modified that multiple times now for kids with seizures, we’ve legalized industrial hemp which helps many of our farmers, but outright legalization, I think from the folks in law enforcement and public health, they said that would be a big problem.”

Cannabadger has been keeping track of the governor’s statements regarding cannabis and you can read more than two dozen instances where he has discussed cannabis from 2010 to date here.

Here is the clip of Evers and Walker answering the cannabis question:

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