Wisconsin Bills Would Legalize Medical Marijuana; Foundation to Block Federal Prohibition

MADISON, Wisc. (Mar. 14, 2017) – Two bills introduced in the Wisconsin legislature would legalize medical marijuana in the state. If signed into law, the bills would take further steps toward blocking the deplorable federal prohibition on cannabis in practice and effect.

Rep. Charlie Brown (D-Madison) introduced Assembly Bill 75 (AB75) while Rep. Sue Errington (D-Muncie) introduced Senate Bill 38 (SB38) this month. The bills contain identical language and would promulgate rules and regulations to set up a functioning medical marijuana program in the Badger State.

Each bill would give access to medical marijuana for patients suffering from the following qualifying conditions:

"(a) Cancer, glaucoma, acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, a positive test for the presence of HIV, antigen or nonantigenic products of HIV, or an antibody to HIV, Crohn’s disease, a hepatitis C virus infection, Alzheimer’s disease, amytrophic lateral sclerosis, nail patella syndrome, Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, post-traumatic stress disorder, or the treatment of these conditions.

(b) A chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition or the treatment of such a disease or condition that causes cachexia, severe pain, severe nausea, seizures, including those characteristic of epilepsy, or severe and persistent muscle spasms, including those characteristic of multiple sclerosis.

(c) Any other medical condition or any other treatment for a medical condition designated as a debilitating medical condition or treatment in rules promulgated by the department of health services."

The bills would allow any medical marijuana patient to designate a caregiver, which would permit another individual the legal authority to grow the plant on behalf of the qualifying patient. Dispensaries would be permitted to operate as well provided that they comply with the tax and regulatory structure established under the legislation.

Despite the federal prohibition on marijuana, measures such as AB75 and SB38 remain perfectly constitutional, and the feds can do little if anything to stop them in practice.

EFFECT ON FEDERAL PROHIBITION

If AB75 and SB38 are signed into law, it would partially remove one layer of law prohibiting the possession and use of marijuana in Wisconsin, but federal prohibition would remain in place.

Of course, the federal government lacks any constitutional authority to ban or regulate marijuana within the borders of a state, despite the opinion of the politically connected lawyers on the Supreme Court. If you doubt this, ask yourself why it took a constitutional amendment to institute federal alcohol prohibition.

While these Wisconsin bills would not alter federal law, they would take a step toward thwarting in effect the federal ban. FBI statistics show that law enforcement makes approximately 99 of 100 marijuana arrests under state, not federal law. By easing the state laws, the Indiana House would remove some of the basis for 99 percent of marijuana arrests.

Furthermore, figures indicate it would take 40 percent of the DEA’s yearly-budget just to investigate and raid all of the dispensaries in Los Angeles – a single city in a single state. That doesn’t include the cost of prosecution. The lesson? The feds lack the resources to enforce marijuana prohibition without state assistance.

A GROWING MOVEMENT

Wisconsin could join a growing number of states simply ignoring federal prohibition, and blocking it in practice. Colorado, Washington state, Oregon and Alaska have already legalized recreational cannabis with California, Nevada, Maine, and Massachusetts set to join them after ballot initiatives in favor of legalization were passed last November.

With more than two-dozen states allowing cannabis for medical use as well, the feds find themselves in a position where they simply can’t enforce prohibition any more.

“The lesson here is pretty straight forward. When enough people say, ‘No!’ to the federal government, and enough states pass laws backing those people up, there’s not much the feds can do to shove their so-called laws, regulations or mandates down our throats,” policy analyst Michael Boldin said.

NEXT UP

AB75 was referred to the House Health Committee while SB38 was referred to the Senate Health and Human Services Committee. Their respective committees must approve the bills before they can receive full Assembly and Senate votes.