The La Crosse Tribune is reporting that Bertha Madras, one of six members of President Trump's Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis, is scheduled to give two presentations in La Crosse on Monday March 26.
Unfortunately the talks will not be about new approaches to addressing the opioid crisis like legalizing medical marijuana. While research from states that have legalized medical use shows significant reductions in overdose fatalities and opiate abuse and addiction, Madras, a Harvard Medical School professor of psychobiology, is a longtime opponent of medical cannabis legalization.
The first session, for medical providers, runs from 12-1 pm at Gundersen Health System, another open to the general public is set for 6:30-8:30 pm at Viterbo University's School of Nursing. The two anti-cannabis presentations are sponsored by the La Crosse County Prevention Network, Gundersen Medical Foundation and the Monroe County Safe Community Coalition.
Cannabadger has previously reported on anti-cannabis efforts by two of the three sponsoring groups, the La Crosse County Prevention Network and the Monroe County Safe Community Coalition.
Judi Zabel, a Health Educator with the La Crosse County Health Department and member of the La Crosse County Prevention Network quoted in the article was also quoted in a July 2017 report by La Crosse's WXOW.com reacting to Rep. Melissa Sargent's legalization bill AB482, "Marijuana today is not the same as it was in the 70s and the 80s. It was only 3-percent level of THC in those early years. But now, we're looking at marijuana levels between 10 and 17-percent for smoking it here in La Crosse County."
And when the Tomah City Council met to discuss lowering city pot fines in July 2016, no less than four members of the Monroe County Safe Community Coalition took turns putting their cannabigotry on full display in testimony to the council.
Bertha Madras' biography on Medical Marijuana Pro/Con says she believes cannabis should not be a medical option, offering this quote as her reasoning: "The well-funded movement to medicalize marijuana spreading across our nation calls out for caution and restraint. Activists claim that marijuana is a safe medicine but de facto, it is evolving into a gateway for marijuana legalization. The claim conflicts with current science, with intelligent public health policy, with rigorous standards of the drug approval process, and with best practices of medicine."
Like Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Madras is also a true believer in the repeatedly debunked and discredited so-called "Gateway Theory," according to her interview with the Tribune, "Kids who use marijuana are 10 times more likely to go on to other drugs. The three big factors (leading to other drugs) are tobacco, alcohol and marijuana."
Referring to THC as a "hallucinogenic chemical that affects the brain," Madras also told the Tribune, that average cannabis potency levels have risen from 1-3%, claiming that today, "many plants have concentrations of the chemical ranging from 20 percent to 90 percent." They must be growing some fine buds at Harvard.
The extreme opinions revealed in the Tribune article illustrate, despite nearly overwhelming public support for the legalization of medical cannabis in Wisconsin and beyond, there remains vocal, well-funded and organized opposition throughout the state. While legalization of medical cannabis still faces deep opposition in the legislature, anti-cannabis activists in local governments, non governmental organizations and professional groups strongly opposed to cannabis law reform remain prepared to push back hard should any legislation gain traction.
We've seen these opponents in almost cult-like opposition to pot law reforms in Milwaukee, Monona, Tomah, Oshkosh, Racine, Middleton and West Milwaukee when local activists made attempts to reduce local pot fines. And it's not just anti-drug groups, with mayors, alders, police chiefs and judges also offering up crazy end-of-the-world scenarios of rampant pot smoking, open-air drug markets and people not going to work over the specter of pot fines being reduced a few bucks.
Even with overwhelming popular support for legalizing medical cannabis, reefer madness still runs deep in the DNA of many people in Wisconsin, and they will fight tooth and nail to keep this tool out of the hands of Wisconsin patients who it can benefit; the sick and dying, people with disabilities, children with seizure disorders and rare ailments, senior citizens and veterans.
We must push back as hard as we can against these special interests who seem to derive pleasure from withholding a safe natural medicine used by humans for millennia to make life more bearable.