Wednesday pro-marijuana lobbying groups met with legislators in Madison to advocate for the legalization of medical cannabis in Wisconsin.
Organizers from the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws and Is My Medicine Legal Yet spent the day speaking with state congress members, urging them to take action on the Jackie Rickert Medical Marijuana Act. The Rickert Act (Senate Bill 371) would amend the state constitution to allow individuals to use marijuana for medical reasons as directed by a physician.
Eighteen states have already legalized medical marijuana, two (Colorado and Washington) have legalized adult recreational cannabis use and public opinion on prohibition has quickly changed to the point where polls now show the majority of Americans favor a repeal.
With research now showing the medical benefits of marijuana and more people coming to the conclusion that it doesn’t make sense to keep the plant on the black market and users in the depths of the corrections system, it is getting harder for opponents to argue against some form of legalization.
Nevertheless, on Monday the Herald Times Reporter of Manitowoc attempted to pre-emptively strike against legalization advocates with an editorial titled Our View: Not time to legalize marijuana in Wisconsin.
The arguments made in the Reporter’s editorial are not backed up by reason or fact, thus making it look less like a well-argued editorial and more like a piece of prohibition propaganda.
The first major argument made by the newspaper is as follows:
“There is a reason pot is, at least under federal law, a controlled substance. It is, as police and mental health experts call it, a “gateway drug” that often leads to experimentation with more dangerous illegal drugs, particularly among young people.”
The gateway drug reasoning for keeping all forms of marijuana illegal seems to have lost its credibility with much of the public. More people are making the contrary point that people are exposed to other drugs precisely because they are forced to seek out marijuana from dealers on the black market who are not limiting their inventories to cannabis or may be selling cannabis laced with other substances.
Going on to speak specifically about marijuana legalization for medical purposes, the Reporter states:
“We believe, with many medical experts, that there are safer and more conventional medicines available for the ailments that marijuana often is “prescribed” to treat, such as glaucoma, multiple sclerosis and even some forms of cancer.
“We believe traditional medicines are at least as — if not more — effective than marijuana.”
The above statements put forth by the Reporter are simply not accurate. Marijuana, with its active ingredient THC, exists of its own accord in nature and has been used for thousands of years for medicinal purposes. The other medical treatments mentioned above are recent creations of man, oftentimes consisting of chemical hybrids synthesized in a lab and mixed with filling agents that must be processed by the liver, often to a patient’s physical detriment.
History would make marijuana the traditional medicine, not today’s pills.
The final assertion made by the Reporter is simply bizarre. The paper states:
“Recent reports by state health officials indicate that use of tobacco products among teenagers is declining in Wisconsin. Legalizing marijuana could serve to reverse that healthy trend and create additional social problems associated with the drug.”
The newspaper does not offer any scientific, historical or anecdotal evidence for the above claims, and in contrast to other arguments made in the editorial, the above statements were not attributed to prevailing opinion among an amorphous group of medical experts, mental health experts or police officers.
The Herald Times Reporter is a Gannett newspaper. Letters to the editor can be sent here.