The Midwest Proves Fertile Ground for Marijuana Reform, Despite Rabid Republican Agenda
From Michigan to Kentucky the spade work of progressive reformers is paying off.
I read awith some Wisconsin marijuana news contained within. Not the best news for the activists in Wisconsin, but it does show we are making headway, both in our state and on a national level. We need to get legislation introduced and pending again, if they are not even willing to talk about the issue(s) there is no way they can claim they serve the “will of the people.”
In Ohio, Wisconsin and Indiana, the three states whose antiworker legislation has dominated domestic news this year, medical-marijuana bills have been pushed onto the back burner.
In Ohio, three medical-marijuana bills have been introduced, but Ed Orlett, a former state senator now working with the DPA, says it is unlikely they’ll even get a committee hearing.
Some activists are considering a ballot initiative in 2012, but that would be difficult, says Orlett. Ohio requires 380,000 valid signatures to get a measure on the ballot, and petitioners must also turn in a minimum number from each of the state’s 44 counties, most of which are rural. It would cost $3 million to run a serious campaign, he says, and the state’s activists don’t have access to that kind of resources.
Madison NORML Examiner Gary Stork gives his recap on last years events and a history lesson about the Fitzgerald family.
In Wisconsin, a medical-marijuana bill has been introduced in the state legislature for the last several years, but the Republican majority that rammed through measures to eviscerate government workers’ unions is unlikely to pass it, says longtime Madison activist Gary Storck. No Republicans voted for it in the last session, he says.
“I think we’ve established that medical marijuana has the people’s support,” he says, “but we couldn’t have the votes.“
Last year, advisory referenda supporting medical marijuana got 75 percent of the vote in Dane County (the Madison area) and 68 percent in River Falls. Local activists plan to push for similar measures, Storck adds, and “we’re allying ourselves with the pro-union, and the pro-disabled, against Medicaid cuts.“
He thought that Michigan would lead the way for the Midwest, but “we didn’t realize the depths of the Republican opposition.“
An ironic sidelight to Scott Walker’s governorship, Storck notes, is that his two chief legislative henchmen, State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald, are the sons of former Dodge County Sheriff Stephen Fitzgerald. The elder Fitzgerald was in office in April 1995, when Detective Robert Neuman, in a no-knock raid on single father Scott Bryant’s trailer after they found pot stems in his garbage, fatally shot the unarmed Bryant while his 7-year-old son slept in the next room. The county prosecutor found the shooting “not in any way justified,” but Fitzgerald returned Neuman–who chaired the county Republican party, and had regularly campaigned for him–to armed duty, saying he’d “suffered enough.” A year later, Dodge County settled a civil-rights lawsuit by Bryant’s parents for $950,000.
In February, Walker picked Stephen Fitzgerald to head the state police.
As many of you know, I live in the Republican heartland with some of our area witnessing 70% straight line voting for that side of the coin. But overall when we hit the streets and fields, we find over 70% support for the reform of marijuana laws. That same support spilled over to our elected officials at the local and state level. When I ran for state assembly in fall of 2010, Republican Assembly Representative Joan Ballweg (R-Markesan) had indicated support for medical marijuana in a public forum. Ballweg has also been a consistent sponsor of industrial hemp legislation. During the month of December our chapter was addressed by Senator Luther Olsen (R-Ripon) who also indicated support for marijuana reform. Ultimately these two elected officials, along with the rest of the Senate and Assembly did not get a chance to vote on legislation because the bill did not make it out of committee. Many blame “politics as usual” as part of the problem. Olsen and Ballweg say the same thing. I say we help them find the courage to re-introduce a compassionate use law for medical marijuana and an industrial hemp bill. Who is with me?
We speak to individuals about industrial hemp, medical marijuana, recreational cannabis and also the overall “war on drugs”. Now more than ever is the time for activists to urge all supporters to get involved and contact their elected officials to re-plant the seeds of reform in the political fertile ground that Wisconsin now bears.
The article closed out on a very important note.
If Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin had ballot initiatives, he contends, they’d have legalized medical marijuana too.