Republicans Steineke, Murphy and Rohrkaste chime in on medical marijuana
I archive these statements because marijuana reform is coming and we need to hold elected officials accountable. I read this news article and basically see the need to hold a public hearing on medical cannabis and to deny that any longer is now making the Republicans look horrible, especially since we have a majority of the Republicans in the Assembly telling us they support “medical marijuana”. The failure of Assembly Leader Vos to move legislation is making him look bad and will bring about changes withing the Republican party.
Do these three Republicans support marijuana reform? I get asked that often and until they author, co-author or co-sponsor legislation on the issue I say they are not supporters and just are giving us lip service. But at this point I have to say Steineke is a NO, Rohrkaste is maybe and Murphy is a YES.
APPLETON – Last fall, voters in nonbinding referendums in 16 counties and two cities in Wisconsin overwhelmingly favored proposals surrounding the legalization of marijuana.
Some focused on medical use only, while others involved recreational use.
Now, those who supported the referendums may be pleased to see Gov. Tony Evers’ latest proposal for marijuana-related legislation. Others are opposing portions of his plan, saying decriminalization for small amounts goes too far.
Barbara Stucki of Oshkosh, thinks legalizing marijuana will have more benefits than drawbacks.
“It’s not the gateway drug that people think it is and it helps to alleviate pain and many, many diseases,” she said. “I just think there’s a lot of states that have already legalized it, so I think it’s a medicine that should be legalized.”
Evers said last week that he wants to create a medical marijuana program regulated by the state’s health and agriculture departments. He also favors decriminalizing possession of small amounts of for personal use, expunging convictions for possessing, manufacturing or distributing 25 grams or less of marijuana, and aligning state laws on cannabidiol, or CBD oil, with federal standards.
Wisconsin law requires a physician to give a yearly certification for families to access CBD oil.
In December, Appleton sent a resolution to the state expressing the city’s support for legalizing marijuana for medicinal use and removing it as a Schedule 1 drug, which is considered to have a high potential for abuse and can’t be accepted as medical treatment.
While Outagamie County did not hold a fall referendum about the issue, officials have been exploring the pros and cons of legalizing medical marijuana. The County Board has yet to vote on the matters.
Public Safety Committee chairman Dan Grady said he fully supports Evers’ efforts towards legalizing medical marijuana and his stance on decriminalization.
Grady said the county is planning to hold a referendum on legalizing medical marijuana in April 2020, but plans to also begin discussions on decriminalization. The proposal will go to the public safety committee for discussion next week.
John Packwood of Little Chute, who suffers from a spine disease, said he feels positive about the push to legalize medical marijuana.
“The quality of life for people with chronic pain, it would be a godsend here in Wisconsin,” Packwood said. “It would help people that are already using it because they know it helps. It would help not to have to fear for their freedom everyday just for feeling good.”
A total of 33 states and Washington D.C. have legalized marijuana in some form, whether for medicinal or recreational use.
Whether Wisconsin joins those states relies heavily on the Republican-controlled Legislature, where some leaders have already expressed opposition to legalizing marijuana.
State Rep. Jim Steineke, R-Kaukauna, said while he’s open to the idea of looking into medical marijuana as an option for people suffering with chronic pain, he doesn’t think the conversation of legalizing it for medical purposes and decriminalization should be held at the same time.
“Any time you’re dealing with issues like this when there’s polarizing opinion on either side, you try to find part of (the) subject that both sides are in favor of,” said Steineke, referring to the more likely bipartisan support for medical marijuana.
Steineke said medical marijuana could be helpful if it was prescribed by a doctor and limited in scope, but worries about other consequences of legalizing marijuana.
“Other states have seen dramatic rises in DUIs, overall cost in the system for services, things of that nature that people don’t truly understand,” he said.
Rep. Dave Murphy, R-Greenville, issued a statement saying he would support regulated medical marijuana if it ensures the safety of public roadways, but oppose any push to legalize recreational use.
Rep. Mike Rohrkaste, R-Neenah, said he would be open to discussing legalizing medical marijuana, but disagrees with the governor’s approach to try and put it in the state budget.
“Such legislation should really be dealt with outside of the budget process,” Rohrkaste said. “We need to have extensive hearings on it to fully understand it … we already have substance abuse issues that we need to really work with our medical communities (on) that whatever we do will have the best interest of people in the long run.
“We have to be cautious. If the governor or certain legislators really want to push this, let’s have some hearings on this.”
However, Rep. Amanda Stuck, D-Appleton, thinks legalizing medical marijuana will help combat the opioid crisis and decriminalization would save tax dollars by reducing the rate of jail inmates.
“I support the governor’s efforts,” Stuck said. “It seems completely unreasonable that doctors can prescribe (opioids), but they can’t prescribe marijuana.”
She said efforts taken at the city and county level proves residents in the Fox Valley are in favor of the measures.
“Our community is saying this is something they want,” Stuck said. “We as representatives should be responsive to (it).”