Senator Roger Roth (R) Softens Stance On Medical Marijuana

Senator Roger Roth (R) Softens Stance On Medical Marijuana

Born in Appleton, Wisconsin, Roth served in the Wisconsin Air National Guard and is an Iraq War veteran. Roth graduated from St. Mary Central High School in Neenah, Wisconsin and received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh

Prior to entering politics, Roth was a self-employed homebuilder. He served in the Wisconsin State Assembly as a Republican from 2007 to 2011.

I became very active in cannabis reform in 2009. At that time, the Democrats controlled the Governor Office, Senate and Assembly.

I do not remember Assembly Rep. Roth (R) being a vocal opponent of marijuana reform in those first years, but again… the democrats were in control so we mostly dealt with them.

The 2009-2010 medical marijuana bill did receive a public hearing. That was the first and last time medical marijuana received a public hearing. In 2010 the Republicans took control and during those early years in the Walker administration, even hemp was frowned upon.

On April 11, 2014, Senator Mike Ellis (R) from Senate District 19 announced that he would not run for re-election that year after a video showing him discussing an illegal campaign scheme was released.

Ellis (R) was the Senate Minority Leader in 1993, 1995, 1997 and 1999; Ellis also served as Senate President twice. Ellis had served a total of 44 years and now the Senate District 19 seat was open.

Roth’s uncle, Toby Roth, served in the United States House of Representatives from Wisconsin from 1979 to 1997. So it was not a surprise with Roger Roth entered the race for Senate District 19 in 2014 and ran unopposed in a highly sought after seat held by a 44 year career politician.

Senator Roger Roth Senate President Senate District 19 (R - Appleton)
Senator Roger Roth Senate President Senate District 19 (R – Appleton)

It was not until 2017 that the Republicans even started talking about marijuana reform was a possible caucus supported idea. The heat was off, so to speak, as Democrats had submitted legislation to “legalize recreational marijuana”.

This animal let out of the cage made decriminalization and medical a much more attainable compromise. A decriminalization bill morphed by a Republican from a previous democrat bill attracted some more Republicans and many of the said they supported medical marijuana behind the scenes.

In July 2017 Roth had this to say about recreational marijuana: “Does it lead to be a gateway drug? Are young minors finding access to it more easily? Are there negative consequences, or are there really positive things? Do we find that the tax benefits from it make it worthwhile,” he went on to add ““I don’t think we should have the conversation until 2025 when we’ve had a decade’s-worth of data to comb through and really understand how this will affect our society,” said Roth of future numbers from states with legal marijuana.

In October 2017 Senator Roth again made the news. It made me angry. It made Veterans angry. This time he was asked and referring to medical marijuana. Here is what he had to say:

“I think the best thing we can do right now in the state is really glean from the other states that have already gone down that road and make sure we fully understand the impacts that this could have before Wisconsin takes that plunge,” said State Sen. Roger Roth (R-Appleton).

29 states have approved medical marijuana legislation.

Roth believes about a decade would be the appropriate period to wait and see what develops in those states.

“There must be a lot of apprehension in the medical community because not one organization in the medical community has lined up in support of this bill,” said Roth. “I think that ought to be very telling where we are in this state, where the medical community is when it comes to legalizing marijuana.”

The October 2017 comments prompted me to write an article entitled “Senator Roth ignores 20 years of marijuana data and insists on 10 more, which in part said; California went medical in 1996 Senator Roth, this is 2017. Your fuzzy math numbers and kicking the can a decade down the road does nothing for the Veterans that you claim to support.

Veterans self report use of marijuana higher than an other demographic. Kicking marijuana reform down the road is kicking veterans while they are down. We began to make sure his office had medical studies, heard from veterans and the medical community.

The 2018 state wide advisory referendum attempt through a joint resolution did result in some progress. People pushed hard a got referendums coming up in 16 counties and major news source is asking candidates about marijuana reform. It was just a matter of time before Roth was questioned again.

In October 2018: Senator Roth was asked: Would you support changing state law to legalize marijuana and/or cannabis products? If so, under what conditions? If not, why?

Roth replied: “I don’t believe there’s enough data available to understand how it would affect our society in a number of important areas. Some initial statistics from states where it’s legal show an increase in fatal crashes attributable to drivers testing positive solely for marijuana.

Our local law enforcement officials are against it, and it’s unclear how they could accurately and immediately test for driving under the influence of marijuana in the same way as they test for alcohol. I am also concerned that legalization could make marijuana even more accessible to minors as well as the health consequences from smoking.”

We won re-election in 2018 and we went right back to work, so did he.

In November 2018 Senator Roth slide the slippery slope theory into his wording.

The slippery slope to legalization is also factually untrue. I will personally debate Senator Roger Roth on that portion of his statement anytime, anywhere.

Wisconsin Senate President Roger Roth said he believes there’s not enough medical evidence yet to support legalization, and that allowing doctors to prescribe the substance for people with medical needs could open the door to recreational marijuana legalization for which the state is not ready.

We still don’t know the health effects of long-term use,” said Roth, R-Appleton. “I believe we’d need eight to 10 years of data to understand the impacts. … I don’t support it, and I don’t believe the support is there” in the Senate.

Our organization has a printed publication entitled “Recent Research on Medical Marijuana: Emerging Clinical Applications For Cannabis & Cannabinoids A Review of the Recent Scientific Literature, 2000 — 2017. Here is the link if anyone wants to share this with others.

He never returned our request for an appointment. His district office was always locked and empty. We put information under his door and left cards, notes, messages. We rallied outside his office and even made the main stream media Fox 11 News. He declined to be interviewed by them I guess also…. LAME!

So we did the next thing we could, recruited people in his district to work on reform with us. This was not hard, because people who support reform are everywhere! We did have some help though, because for years we met monthly in downtown Appleton as a group. Many of our past and current board of directors are from the Fox Valley area.

Now in 2021, As Senator Scott Fitzgerald now a congressman-elect he will be leaving his seat as Senate Majority Leader,. Wisconsin Senate Republicans voted Thursday to name Senator Devin LeMahieu as new Majority Leader. LeMahieu will be the new head of their caucus following an election that increased their hold on the Senate chamber by two seats. 

I personally expected that Senator Roger Roth (R-Appleton) would have not only taken over the Majority Leader role, but also the role of “just say no / head in the sand” approach to marijuana reform” that Fitzgerald held tight for all these years. Only elected in 2014, LeMahieu (R-Oostburg), succeeded Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) for this prestigious position.

LeMahieu, who beat former Senate President Roger Roth, R-Appleton, for the role in a closed-caucus vote Thursday afternoon, said in a statement the Senate needs “a strong and unified team in order to accomplish what is best for Wisconsin.” 

Republicans elected Sen. Chris Kapenga (R-Delafield), Senate President replacing Senator Roth as President. The Delafield lawmaker was unopposed, after Sen. Alberta Darling withdrew her name from consideration following the majority leader vote, according to her office.

We all know what the new Senate Majority Leader LeMahieu said…or do we? I covered LeMahieu in another article entitled LeMahieu, the pot stops here… maybe . New Senate President Chris Kapenga stinks of refer madness. Both important for the next segment on Roger Roth.

February 23rd 2021 Senator Roth posts on his official legislative facebook page: I had a wide-ranging conversation with Josh Dukelow on his FreshTake show on WHBY this morning. We discussed restoring voter confidence in our elections, areas where the legislature can find compromise with Governor Tony Evers proposed budget, the feasibility of approving medical marijuana in Wisconsin and my hearing at University of Wisconsin-Whitewater tomorrow on campus free speech issues.

That caught my attention, given the spew of crap that had been coming from the elephants in charge on facebook lately.

I listened to the interview and suggest you do also, I cannot transcribe it all, but someone should, put it in the comments! The Roger Roth marijuana part starts at 48:22 and here is the link: Roger Roth Marijuana Interview It is best to listen to the tone of the overall interview.

The take away I got from this interview was this:

Roth said he had positive conversations with cancer survivors and veterans.

He came to conclusion that THC has medical benefits and is “more open to medical then he has ever been”.

Mentions the “Republican” medical cannabis bill, but not Democrats version.

Senator Roth does point back and name the Republican Majority Leader and Senate President as against marijuana reform.

Roth wants law enforcement on board, seems to indicate recreational/adult use is coming at some point (new slippery slope theory Republicans are presenting?)

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