The legalization of medical marijuana is an issue that continues to rumble on in both Wisconsin and the rest of the country. In the November elections, six Wisconsin counties (Brown, Dane, La Crosse, Milwaukee, Rock and Sauk) are asking voters for their opinion on the issue.
While that is an advisory referendum mechanism only, and therefore carries no legislative weight, the fact that it is being put before some Wisconsin voters shows how this subject is gaining in profile. The nature of the debate in Wisconsin about medical marijuana, as with the rest of the US, is changing and it is entirely feasible that beyond November, the question will be up for real legislative change at some point.
The case for legalization is both considerable and growing:
- As at March 2018, over 80% of Americans favor the legalization of medical marijuana .
- Evidence that marijuana acts as an effective treatment for chronic pain was identified in a late 2016 report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine and was “by far the most common reason” that people asked their doctor for it .
- Marijuana can also be used to manage and provide relief from a wide range of conditions, including muscle pain, glaucoma, irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease and PTSD .
- Marijuana is a much safer alternative to pain management than opiate based solutions. The addictive properties of marijuana are negligible in comparison to opiates and the risk of overdose on marijuana is non-existent .
- Marijuana is being increasingly used to help chemotherapy patients manage post-treatment problems of sickness and nausea, while preliminary studies are showing that marijuana can be effective in destroying certain types of cancer cells .
The American public’s recent change in their perception of marijuana in general, let alone medical, has been marked. Presently six in ten Americans believe that marijuana should be legalized and that is representative of an overall upward trend . Even if one were to have reservations about marijuana in the recreational sense, the growing studies and evidence that show the benefits of marijuana in the medical sense are hard to refute.
Voters in a select number of Wisconsin counties have the opportunity this November to demonstrate how far the medical marijuana debate has come and to build momentum for a full, legislative vote on its legalization in the state.