Wisconsin Dems urge GOP to hold pot referendum: “There are a lot who are struggling”

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MADISON -- Democrats are renewing their efforts to legalize medical marijuana in Wisconsin as 28 other states have done, but the movement faces stiff opposition from key Republicans.

State Sen. Jon Erpenbach, D-Middleton, and state Rep. Chris Taylor, D-Madison, are introducing legislation that would legalize medical marijuana for patients with a doctor's prescription. A separate bill would take the issue to voters to measure support in a nonbinding, statewide referendum.

At a news conference to announce the legislation on Monday, February 6th, an Iraq War veteran from Dane County said medical marijuana has helped him cope with post-traumatic stress disorder and pain associated with three back surgeries.

Medical marijuana

"This represents the amount of pills I was prescribed by the VA in a period of about three weeks," Acheson said, holding up two freezer bags with pill bottles. "Had I continued using this concoction of painkillers, muscle relaxers and other harmful prescriptions, I’m sure I would’ve become one of the 20 veterans a day who lose hope and commit suicide

Steve Acheson

Steve Acheson

Acheson lives in Waunakee, a suburb of Madison. He said after beginning to use marijuana, he graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville. Acheson served in the Army from 2004 to 2008.

"There are a lot of citizens in this state who are struggling. Many are veterans. We are not criminals," Acheson said. "We no longer want to live in the shadows of society in a constant state of fear of repercussion."

Taylor said medical marijuana is safer than opiate painkillers. Wisconsin officials widely view opiate addiction as having reached crisis levels in the state.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos

The Democrats' legislation comes a few weeks after Assembly Speaker Robin Vos surprised many when he said he was open to legalizing medical marijuana. Vos said he wouldn't offer legislation on the issue, however.

"Speaker Vos, you should be joining us here in calling for the legalization of medical marijuana here. We invite him to join us," Taylor said.

Taylor and Erpenbach's efforts are likely to fail, as all previous attempts to legalize medical marijuana in Wisconsin have. The drug is legal in neighboring Minnesota, Michigan and Illinois.

Rep. Chris Taylor

Rep. Chris Taylor

Taylor said she hasn't gotten the support of any Republicans and is unsure whether the bills will even get a committee hearing, the first step in the process.

Governor Scott Walker opposes legislation because he says law enforcement is against it.

"They`re very concerned it would open the door towards a gateway at a time when we already have a crisis with opioid and other abuse in this state," Walker said.


Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald told the Associated Press that he would oppose legalizing medical marijuana and the bill putting the question to a nonbinding, statewide referendum.

State Rep. Dale Kooyenga, R-Brookfield, said he was open to the discussion but only if the federal government first declassified medical marijuana as a controlled substance.

"That’s the right way to do it, and then Wisconsin should make a decision," he said. "Our decision should be based on, what are we seeing in other states? If we’re seeing higher high school delinquency rates, if we’re seeing workforce issues, then I think we need to include those in the conversation."


  • jimi5

    August 2016….. The long-awaited decision by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) keeps intact a 1970 law that lists marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug, one defined as having no medical value.

    Nothing but a gateway drug. “Medical use” is just a “legal” way to get stoned and addicted.

    • Doug

      So by that “logic” alcohol is the gateway to cannabis? So we should bring back alcohol Prohibition! Even the DEA has admitted that the so called “gateway drug” theory has been thoroughly debunked years ago. Wow, you Sconnies are really drunk! Newsflash! Prohibition does not work. You can get cannabis anywhere anytime everywhere in the state, regardless of what you want or what the big government nanny state wants! Ha ha lol

    • Retardicans hate freedom and liberty

      Nobody cares! States’ Rights’ matter! Nullification is under way and there is nothing you can do about it!

    • Tony

      You are a liar. Addiction is very rare with marijuana, unlike with alcohol, tobacco and opioids Duh…
      As if anyone who wants to isn’t “getting stoned” now? Lol, if you believe that you are really ignorant, it’s everywhere already!! Legalize tax and regulate.

    • Peter

      …to the Prohibition!! Legalize it!! Why do yiu hate freedom? What do you care what other people do with their lives and bodies just as long as it doesn’t effect YOU? You Prohibitionisys should focus your attention on rot gut liquor and poison poioids rather than non-toxic much safer way more fun reefer. Legalize it Wisconsin!!

  • Gary D

    Nothing will happen bevause Walker and the other ignorant old timey dinosaur Retardican’ts will continue to deny, ignore and obstruct the will of the strong 60% plus majority of Wisconsinites who want cannabis, legalized, taxed and regulated for responsible adult use, just like alcohol.

  • Bobby

    Come on Republicans, sober up, put down your liquor and end the abject undeniable FAILURE of Prohibition in Wisconsin. Just say yes to freedom and legalization.

  • Walker is an idiot

    Cannabis Prohibition has not worked. Just like alcohol prohibition did not work. We have spent 50 years and 2 trillion dollars waging a war on our own people over a plant, only to have it in every school, neighborhood and park in the state! Reality matters Republicans. It’s everywhere already. Teen use rates and drunk driving rates and opioid addictions and deaths all srop significantly once cannabis is legalized for responsible adult use. We need to embrace the free market vs the black market in Wisconsin, embrace states’ rights and fiscal conservatism, we need to embrace personal freedom and responsibilty vs more big government Nanny State intrusions! We need to legalize, tax and regulate marijuana for responsible adult use like the rest of the country, like almost all the states around us have done already and all of Canada is doing now! The sky has not and will not fall chicken little! Just the opposite! Denver, Seattle Portland etc are awesome thriving cities with great business environments and dramatically less violence and poverty than Milwaukee. Part of the problem is Wisconsin’s racist Jim Crow cannabis enforcement. What put the beer barons and gangsters out of business during alcohol prohibition? Was it the police? Was it laws? NO. We re-legalized alcohol! Duh, Republicans are so stupid. Drooling idiots and hypocrites. They love the black market and the violence it vrings to iur communities. Why? Prohibition is big business for police via lucrative federal drug war grants and awful draconian civil forfeiture laws. The private prison industry loves to lock peaceful, nonviolent canbabis users in cages so as to fill their state legislator gauranteed minimum incarceration quotas! Big pharma loves Prohibition so they can keep doling out poison opioids and other pills that kill and gravely injure people’s health, the Tavern League loves Prohibition because they know their sales will go down, along with drunk driving rates, once people have access to the safer, healthier alternative of tested, regulated cannabis. Legalization is a no brainer. Unfortunately Republicans have no brains!

  • Peter Tosh

    Herb is the healing of the Nations ..Alcohol is the Destroyer. Alcohol is a gateway drug. Alcohol kills brain cells. Herb is the tree of life! Legalize it.

  • Retardicans hate freedom and liberty

    The big government Retardican prohibitionists don’t want a referendum because they know they will LOSE and Lose badly!! Why do Retardicans hate freedom?? The black market purveyors, drug dealers and cartels love prohibition too because they get to keep making billions totally untaxed and unregulated! Retardicans don’t want to put them out of business once and for all the only way you can, by LEGALIZING MARIJUANA!!

  • Carl

    Just say NO to Prohibition!! It’s past the time to get with the times Republican clowns! Stop obstructing the will of the people! Since the Republicans won’t do their jobs we deserve the right to vote on this! Write or call your representatives now and tell them to support cannabis legalization NOW!

  • Lance E.

    Wisconsin Republicans hate freedom and want to lock up Willie Nelson and Rick Steves cause they are crazy reefer addicts! Lol, how unAmerican and stupid are republicans? Answer: very.

  • The Nanny State

    Cannabis was one of the main ingredients of the ancient anointing oil and receiving this oil is what made Jesus the Christ and his followers Christians. Persecuting those who use cannabis is considered anti-Christ.

    • The Nanny State

      Wisconsin makes more money keeping you drunk and hooked on pain pills. LIQUOR LOBBY AND BIG PHARMA routinely gives suitcases full of cash. It’s 2017 – the time for lies is over.

      • Tim

        Yes! Don’t forget the police unions (suspiciously exempt from Walkers Act 10) and private prison industry as well! They love Prohibition, locking up cancer patients, people suffering with epilepsy, MS and a myriad of other maladies is big business! Because Republicans in Wisconsin know, the best way to cure cancer and other diseases is to throw those suffeting from them in jail, steal their homes via civil forfwiture laws and fine the hell out of them. That’s Walker and Republicans for ya! Looking out for the meek and most in need!

  • Chuck Wallace

    Everybody in the state is onboard, the majority of people want it, scientists and doctors want it, democrats, independents socialists and libertarians want it, veterans want it, patients suffering want it, even a lot of law enforcement wants it, it’s just Walker and the Republicans who are obstructing. They stuck in the 1980’s era of lies and misinformation. Makes you wonder why? If it were about public safety they would be banning alcohol again right? Just think of all the lives that would be saved. Got to vote the Republican clowns out people, every last one of them!


      Dems also take the take suitcases full of cash. There is no real separation between parties. This duopoly we live under is a 2 headed snake. ‘Divide and Conquer’. We never stopped paying England their taxes in 1776.

  • Menomonie Home

    smoke that dope on the floor of the congress senate and house and have a great time .. and nothing gets done.. I want to be paid what those druggies spend on that stuff… crap crap and might just as well stop having police come to shootings and deaths of children .. for it has become legal to be a dummy 24/7/365 and not care about anything…

    • Trump Toadie

      Nothing gets done now. You drunks need to sober up. Prohibition causes violence and mayhem in our communities! Just like it did with the beer barons and gangsters during alcohol prohibition, another total FAILURE . What stopped it? Was it police? Was it more laws? No! We legalized alcohol! Time to do the same with marijuana, and soon!!

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