Dem Lawmakers Push To Legalize Medical Marijuana
State Sen. Jon Erpenbach and Rep. Chris Taylor tour state to discuss medical marijuana.
Efforts to advance bills legalizing medical marijuana have continuously stalled this year, but state lawmakers are undaunted as they make stops across Wisconsin to lay out the reasons behind their proposal.
State Sen. Jon Erpenbach (D-Middleton) and Rep. Chris Taylor (D-Madison) have visited the Milwaukee area this week to discuss why they continue to support bills that would allow patients access to cannabis with the caveat that a doctor’s prescription is attached to it.
Erpenbach and Taylor introduced Senate Bill 38 and Assembly Bill 75, respectively, in February. To date, no action has been taken within the capitol on either bills in legislative committees.
In a fitting nod to Veterans Day, much of the discussion focused on how the legalization of medical marijuana would assist members of the military suffering from a series of physical, mental and emotional conditions.
Andrea Roberts was among the military veterans who asserted medical marijuana would help with her conditions. Roberts, a disabled veteran, co-founded a group known as Wisconsin Veterans for Compassionate Care.
“There’s been a campaign to make (medical marijuana) look worse than it is,” Roberts said. “There’s something very unpatriotic about me having to come here and beg for medication.”
Roberts and other military veterans who would like the law enacted took aim at lawmakers against legalizing medical marijuana.
“If they are not supporting this medical marijuana bill they are against veterans — point blank,” Roberts said. “We need officials who say they are for something to follow through with their actions.”
At a time when the war against addictions to heroin, fentanyl and other opioids is more pronounced than ever, military veteran Steve Acheson said time is of the essence to make cannabis accessible for medicinal purposes.
Acheson, who served in the Iraq War from 2004 to 2008, said he has been prescribed scores of medications to address a range of physical issues. Since being honorably discharged, Acheson said he has struggled with anxiety, sleeplessness and depression.
The range of pills doctors have prescribed have, as Acheson described them, left him “in a zombie state.”
“We need access to an alternative,” Acheson said.
For their part, Erpenbach and Taylor said they have been fighting hard to work against some of the stigmas attached to marijuana use.
The state’s overall attitudes about marijuana use — especially for medicinal purposes — might be changing, Erpenbach suggested. At Monday’s forum, he pointed to polling data revealing 75 percent of Wisconsinites would support the bills if doctors are involved.
Erpenbach defended the bills introduced early this year, saying there have been numerous safeguards put in place.
“You would have to have a relationship with a doctor,” Erpenbach said at Monday’s forum. “If the doctor doesn’t think it’s a good idea … it won’t be available.”
Erpenbach and other supporters of the proposal also attempted to poke holes in the theory that medical marijuana prescribed under the guidance of a physician would serve as a gateway drug to other forms of medication.
“This is not going to lead to overdoses of heroin,” he said.
More about the Legalizing of Marijuana
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