Wisconsin missing the boat when it comes to legalizing marijuana for medical use

A recent report by Fox6news Milwaukee, “Is Wisconsin missing the boat when it comes to legalizing marijuana for medical use?,” discussed legislation proposed by Rep. Melissa Sargent (D-Madison) and included some comments from Attorney General Brad Schimel which need to be addressed.

The report discussed a Milwaukee pain patient “Madeline” who is afraid of prosecution for using cannabis to replace oxycontin. Schimel not only refuses to accept the science that cannabis can safely replace opioids but contends because of Milwaukee’s local decriminalization ordinance Madeline should not have to live in fear of being targeted for small amounts of cannabis.

But Schimel conveniently ignores all the other Madelines in Wisconsin, many living in locales where there are no local decriminalization ordinances and having a small amount of pot can lead to misdemeanor or even felony charges. Also, a second offense possession of any amount of cannabis remains a felony under state law.

If Schimel believes decriminalization is a good option, he should be promoting a statewide law like the legislation introduced in 2015 by outgoing State Rep. Mandela Barnes. But decriminalization by itself still would not resolve the risks involved in patients obtaining cannabis in an illegal market as Sargent’s bill does.

With 28 states and the District of Columbia now authorizing some form of medical use and another 8 plus D.C. also having legalized adult use, there is plenty of consensus on the benefits of legalization, not just to treat pain and other conditions and reduce opioid use but as a job creator that also generates new streams of revenue that can be directed toward drug treatment, schools, road repair, etc. It’s time for Wisconsin to join the club.

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