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Let’s Legalize Medical Marijuana

Feb. 7, 2017
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The Shepherd has long advocated for a sensible, compassionate drug policy that includes legal medical marijuana for those seeking relief from a serious medical or behavioral health condition. 

Public opinion is supportive of legalized pot. An eye-popping 85% of Americans support legalizing medical marijuana, according to a survey commissioned by Fox News, and, per a 2016 Marquette Law School poll, a staggering 59% of Wisconsinites approve legalizing and regulating pot, period, for any purpose.

Wisconsin Republican leaders have been too afraid to take a vote on a medical marijuana bill despite many studies that show that it has some very beneficial medicinal qualities, but that might be changing. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos has said he’s open to it, even though his fellow Republicans are not listening to their constituents (or Fox News) about the issue’s popularity. 

Two Democrats are forcing Vos’ hand. State Sen. Jon Erpenbach (D-Middleton) and state Rep. Chris Taylor (D-Madison) have introduced two bills: one to legalize medical marijuana as more than half of the states have done, and, if Republicans are too fearful for that one, a bill to put a statewide advisory, non-binding referendum on the ballot so that voters can weigh in on the issue.

To support their bills, Erpenbach and Taylor are citing research from the University of Michigan showing that medical marijuana use reduces opiate abuse, as well as a Journal of the American Medical Association finding that states with legalized medical marijuana reduced opioid overdose deaths by 25%. It’s pretty clear that medical marijuana is a safer pain killer than opioids, which are easy to abuse, all too often fatally.

We appreciate Robin Vos’ openness to this issue and we’re calling on him and his fellow Republicans to allow the Legislature to vote on this critical issue. Not only would medical marijuana give relief to those with some serious medical problems, but it would help to break Wisconsin’s deadly addiction to opiates.

Poll

Rolling back Barack Obama’s reforms, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has directed federal prosecutors to seek the harshest sentences for drug offenses. Is it bad policy to fill the prison system with nonviolent offenders?

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