Wisconsin State Rep Says “Yes” to Legalization
When asked “Do you support marijuana legalization?” on a local radio show, Wisconsin State Representative Melissa Sargent unequivocally said, “I would, yes,” to hosts Mike Crute and Dominic Salvia, according to reports from The Cap Times in Madison.
“Hallelujah,” replied Crute, finally getting one of his regular political guests in the studio to “Just Say Yes”. While other elected officials like Senator Tammy Baldwin support decriminalization or medical marijuana, Sargent is the first guest they’ve interviewed to support outright legalization.
Sargent even seemed to prefer working on legalization instead of medical marijuana, which has been introduced many times in the statehouse and has failed to get beyond a committee desk. Sargent worries that trying to institute a medical marijuana program would just lead to people cheating the system. “People are going out and getting medical marijuana cards because ‘Oh I have this one pain that you can’t prove’ because they want to be using marijuana recreationally as opposed to medically,” she said. “And who’s to define what’s recreation and what’s medical?”
Sargent, a Democrat, instead views marijuana use on par with alcohol use and framed the issue in what would typically be small-government conservative terms. “People can drink alcohol in our community and I think this is very similar to that. We have to bring ourselves back and really have these conversations about where is government’s responsibility in our lives?”
The people of Wisconsin are starting to side with Sargent, with a Marquette University poll showing 49.7% support legalization vs. 44.9% who support prohibition. But the politicians are lagging behind as usual. Rep. Chris Taylor, who is shepherding the medical marijuana bill through the Assembly, waffles on legalization, saying “I think there are pros and cons to it.” Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke responded to news of the poll’s support for legalization by saying, “I don’t think that’s where the people of Wisconsin are at.”
Really? I’ve been to the Great Midwest Harvest Fest in Madison and there were plenty of great buds to be found. Politicians are paying more attention to their fundraising sources than the people – a recent paper out of Vanderbilt University found Democrats overestimated voters’ conservatism by seven points and Republicans overestimate by twenty points.
Sadly, those politicians’ perceptions translate into bad laws in Wisconsin. This year, the Senate passed a bill that allows cities to prosecute tokers for small personal amounts, even if the district attorney won’t prosecute.
Let’s hope Wisconsin voters elect more reasonable politicians like Melissa Sargent and she gets re-elected by such a margin other politicians take notice.