Letter to the Editor: Resolution to Legalize Cannabis

by Tammy Joy Wood- Elroy, WI.

This weekend the Democratic Party of Wisconsin 3rd Congressional District passed a resolution to affirm that the DPW supports legalizing the production, sale, and use of industrial, medical, and recreational cannabis. This resolution now moves on to the state convention to be considered by the platform and resolutions committee. The legalization of cannabis is not new to the platform of Democratic Party of Wisconsin.

Wisconsin Democrats have long known that the drug war has been a colossal failure and that cannabis should be regulated the same as tobacco and alcohol. Over the last decade, we’ve witnessed the number of states that have legalized the medicinal use of cannabis reach 28 and another 8 states plus Washington D.C. our nation’s capital, legalizing cannabis for recreational purposes. We have watched as the health and wellbeing of the citizens of those states soar while their economies prosper.

Cannabis has been a financial boon to the states that have had the good sense to dismiss the myths and propaganda perpetuated by special interests desperate to continue raking in the profits of prohibition. This greed of corporations, private prisons, and lobbyists rob our state of urgently needed funds. The Wisconsin Department of Revenue estimates a first year profit of $22 million dollars from the sale of recreational cannabis with that total likely tripling in the second year. In 2016 American cannabis sales reached $6.7 billion dollars and is projected to exceed $20 billion dollars within the next 5 years. This speed and size in growth of the cannabis industry out paces that of the dot-com era of the 90’s. Fiscally it makes prudent sense to support the legalization of this plant.

Some still ask if the monetary gain worth the risk?

Yes. Considering those oft-touted risks never came to fruition in legal states, the answer to that question is a resounding yes. State observers have seen teen use remain the same, with some studies suggesting a dip in adolescent consumption. Traffic fatalities have dropped as much as 13 percent. Suicide rates have fallen 9 to 11 percent for men and 5 percent for women. Opioid deaths have reduced by 33 percent. In Colorado, property crimes dropped 3.1 and there has been a 12.8 percent decrease in homicides. Additionally, a study conducted by the University of Buffalo shows that domestic violence is significantly reduced by couples who use cannabis. Overall there is no discernable negative impact to states that have legalized cannabis.

No discernable negative impact, yet the positive outcome is clear. Civil liberties restored while state coffers fill. Observing these developments within legal states is quite likely responsible for 59 percent of Wisconsin citizens supporting the legalization of cannabis.

Wisconsin Democrats have vowed to bring common sense reform to our state. Introducing legislation towards that goal including AB75/SB38 to legalize the medicinal use of cannabis, AB158/SB104 allowing the production of CBD oil, Assembly Bill 147 allowing the cultivation of industrial hemp, and SJR10/AJR7 calling for an advisory referendum on medical cannabis. With more comprehensive recreational legalization bills set for introduction it is clear Democrats are listening to Wisconsinites and working for their constituents.

Tammy Joy Wood, Elroy WI