Op Ed

Yes and No on Marijuana

Evers is right: No to full legalization but yes to medical cannabis, decriminalizing possession of small amounts.

By - Apr 15th, 2019 12:59 pm
Get a daily rundown of the top stories on Urban Milwaukee

Marijuana plant. Photo by Jennifer Martin (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.

Marijuana plant. Photo by Jennifer Martin (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.

Wisconsin Democratic Governor Tony (“the Tiger”) Evers ran in part on reforming state marijuana laws. Evers has now put forward reform initiatives as part of his proposed budget. I agree wholeheartedly with his sensible proposals regarding the criminal justice system, support legalizing medical marijuana and applaud Evers’ steering clear of legalizing recreational use of marijuana.

In his budget address Evers said: “our budget will decriminalize marijuana possession for 25 grams or less.” He has also called for an “expungement (erasing) procedure for individuals who have completed their sentence or probation for possession …”. This approach has been endorsed by the American Medical Association (AMA) which has called for “public health based strategies” rather than fixating on incarceration. In March, the Medical Societies of Connecticut, Delaware, New Jersey and New York agreed, while opposing legalization.

Reforming the criminal justice system on “marijuana-related crimes” (6 percent of state inmates) will reduce prison populations and racial disparities (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel). However, GOP legislative leaders have signaled scorched-earth opposition. They should instead listen to former Wisconsin GOP Governor Tommy Thompson: “We lock up too many people for too long. It’s about time we change the dynamics. I apologize for that.” An honest conservative.

Evers, a cancer survivor, also wants to legalize medical marijuana. He said: “I know the side effects of a major illness can make everyday tasks a challenge. People shouldn’t be treated as criminals for accessing (marijuana)… .” Evers spelled out the details: “Under the … proposal, a physician … can recommend the use of medical marijuana to alleviate symptoms related to medical conditions such as cancer, glaucoma, post-traumatic stress disorder, chronic pain, severe nausea and seizures.” Users would need a state-issued ID and would be prohibited from driving or using machinery “under the influence” (Wisconsin State Journal). I support strictly on humanitarian grounds. Why?

There is very little evidence-based research on medical marijuana. “Because the federal government considers marijuana a Schedule I drug, research on marijuana or its active ingredients is highly restricted and even discouraged in some cases. … Without clear answers (on the efficacy of medical marijuana) hospitals, doctors and patients are left to their own devices, which can result in poor treatment and needless suffering” (Kaiser Health News). The AMA, Wisconsin Medical Society and National Academy of Medicine support research (which should examine marijuana commonly used).

All of the above leads to the elephant in the room – full legalization of marijuana, of which Evers wisely steers clear. Recent articles from the Annals of Internal Medicine, Journal of the American Medical Association and Lancet Psychiatry highlight physiological and psychiatric dangers of using marijuana. Doctor Gail D’Onofrio, Professor and Chair of Emergency Medicine, Yale University School of Medicine, summarized some of the findings: “The harmful effects of marijuana, including impairment of judgment, driving ability and precipitating psychosis in adolescents far exceed its benefits. States should not balance their budgets (taxing marijuana) by jeopardizing the health of the public.”

Yes on criminal justice reforms and medical marijuana, no on full legalization.

This column was originally published by Wispolitics.com

Bill Kaplan wrote a guest column from Washington, D.C. for the Wisconsin State Journal from 1995 – 2009.

More about the Legalizing of Marijuana

Categories: Crime, Health, Op-Ed, Politics

2 thoughts on “Op Ed: Yes and No on Marijuana”

  1. mkwagner says:

    It should be noted that alcohol, which is legal, has the same negative consequences. However, contrary to popular belief, alcohol and tobacco are the gateway drugs. Marijuana not so much.
    My point is, legalizing and then regulating, which is what has been done for alcohol, is a more effective means of controlling the use of a substance than an outright ban.

  2. Paul Mozina says:

    People, it is pathetic to have to constantly remind y’all of the basic principles of human freedom and liberty upon which this country purports to base its legitimacy on. Have y’all forgotten what it is to be free? Can you even imagine a world where human beings express their inalienable and inherent natural right to be the masters of their own bodies freely deciding what they will ingest? Can you even imagine a world where people freely research all of the available substances without the interference of government?

    Please people, do you think the founding fathers, who some venerate to the point of deification, would have ever imagined in their wildest dreams that their constitution would be used by future tyrants to feed their addiction to controlling the lives and bodies of the people?

    The LAW is JUSTICE. If it is to claim any legitimacy, it must be based on the natural rights of human beings. No group of people associating themselves under the name of government can delegate any rights to their agents, their representatives, that none of them possesses. When the arbitrary “positive” laws of wo/man come into conflict with the natural, inherent and inalienable rights of human beings, then the former must fall to the ground.

    The whole “debate” about legalization or decriminalization concedes to the government its illegitimate and inhuman assertion that the people somehow delegated to it a right that none of them individually possesses.

    Oh please master, can I have some Cannabis??

    It is pathetic and y’all should be ashamed of yourself for groveling to the state for a scrap of what is legitimately yours.

    When, where, how and why did you give the state the right to control what you put in your body? When did you agree to be a slave of the state? What gives you the right to restrict my freedom?

    Please read Lysander Spooner’s excellent essay “Vice Are Not Crimes”: https://mises.org/library/vices-are-not-crimes

    And Randy Barnett’s essay “The Harmful Side Effects of Drug Prohibition”: https://scholarship.law.georgetown.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?referer=&httpsredir=1&article=1837&context=facpub

Leave a Reply

You must be an Urban Milwaukee member to leave a comment. Membership, which includes a host of perks, including an ad-free website, tickets to marquee events like Summerfest, the Wisconsin State Fair and the Florentine Opera, a better photo browser and access to members-only, behind-the-scenes tours, starts at $9/month. Learn more.

Join now and cancel anytime.

If you are an existing member, sign-in to leave a comment.

Have questions? Need to report an error? Contact Us