Here’s my latest letter in the Cap Times. I guess with my reference to the Madison Ord. 23.20 anniversary, I assumed it might get published closer to the anniversary date. But it came out March 25 and I didn’t spot it at the time.
Mar 25, 2017
Dear Editor: Monona Mayor Bob Miller and the three alders he joined in voting to repeal penalties for adult possession of small amounts of cannabis in the city showed real courage.
Before the vote, Miller said if he had to break the tie, he would vote yes because of the racial disparities of the war on pot. Madison’s historic cannabis ordinance was mentioned as the inspiration for the change by alders during the debate, particularly the section referencing cannabis in private places.
The Monona effort took local activists almost 21 months, and it’s notable the vote came just a couple weeks shy of the 40th anniversary of the passage of Madison Ord. 23.20 by city voters in an April 5, 1977, binding referendum. Ord. 23.20’s clause about cannabis in private places was quite controversial and there were worries it might be challenged. But it stayed on the ballot, getting 60 percent of the vote and remains on the books today.
Back in 1977, few could have imagined cannabis would still be illegal in 2017, much less still a state felony for second offense. Statewide decriminalization has remained elusive over those four decades, leaving generations of cannabis users with criminal records.
On April 5, if you indulge, smoke a joint for the folks who fought to put decriminalization on city ballots 40 years ago and the folks still fighting for cannabis freedom today. And please remember to regularly take a few minutes to call or message your elected representatives and let them know ending criminal penalties for pot in Wisconsin is long overdue.