Let the Public Decide on Medical Marijuana
Introduces legislation calling for statewide referendum
Twenty-eight states have legalized marijuana for medicinal purposes, including Wisconsin’s neighbors Minnesota, Michigan and Illinois. Proven effective at reducing opiate abuse, a 2016 University of Michigan study found patients using medical marijuana to treat chronic pain reported a 64 percent reduction in their use of opioid painkillers. In addition, a 2014 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found states with legalized medical marijuana saw a 25 percent cut in opioid overdose deaths.
Erpenbach and Taylor introduced their Compassionate Cannabis Care Act last session, but it did not receive a public hearing in either house. This session, the two Dane County elected officials included a new proposal that would authorize a non-binding statewide referendum on whether to legalize medical marijuana. Several high-profile Republicans have previously expressed public support for similar referendums – including Governor Scott Walker. Recent national polling from May 2016 shows that 89 percent of Americans support medical marijuana.
“While there has been a dramatic shift in public opinion on medical marijuana, I understand why some of my colleagues remain cautious. As elected officials, we are sent to Madison to represent our constituents. I am confident a statewide referendum would provide Governor Walker and legislators across Wisconsin with the support and peace of mind needed to advance this legislation. At a minimum, allow the public’s voices to be heard,” Erpenbach concluded.
By Sen. Jon Erpenbach (D-Middleton) and Rep. Chris Taylor (D-Madison).
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