Proposed pot legislation continues Wisconsin's backward march
While the shout "Forward, March" is heard throughout the country, in Wisconsin we are deaf, daft and dumb, marching in the opposite direction.
You can hardly go to a news website, turn on a television or pick up a paper or magazine without reading something about gay marriage or legalization of marijuana, both issues going through major changes.
Gay marriage is inexorably becoming the law of the land in all kinds of places. Sure, there are some Neanderthal places that have their heels dug in and refuse to be dragged into what they think is an abomination against either their god or their bible.
But there are so many examples of the inevitably of the legalization. Anyone who saw the mass marriage ceremony on the Grammys couldn't help but be moved. Men and women, men and men and women and women all exchanged vows. It was an emotional testimony to open-mindedness.
Heck, the mayor of Minneapolis recently went on a tour sponsored by his convention and visitors bureau, to try and encourage gay and lesbian couples to bring their business to Minneapolis. For the city, it was an economic decision.
But Wisconsin is still marching into the dark dungeons of discrimination and governmental control of every aspect of our lives. We have actually amended our constitution to outlaw gay marriage. Changing that amendment is going to be a complex process, unless somebody can pursue legal action that succeeds in declaring the amendment unconstitutional. That's going to be a tough road to hoe.
Our enlightened legislature set its sights on gay marriage and has now turned its baleful gaze on marijuana.
All over the country governments at all levels are legalizing or decriminalizing the use of marijuana. Laws have been changed to allow use of marijuana for everything from medical use to recreational use.
Not in Wisconsin, and this one is on not just Republicans. This one had bipartisan support.
The State Senate and Assembly have passed a measure making it easier for municipalities to prosecute marijuana possession.
It's kind of complex, but here's an explanation of the measure and remember the key number here is 25 grams of marijuana. I'm one of the few people in the world who has never smoked weed. But I'm told by those who should know, that you could probably get 50 joints from 25 grams.
The old law let local municipalities prosecute cases with up to 25 grams. If it was over 25 grams, or a second of more offense, it was up to the county district attorney. If the D.A. declined to prosecute or just dismissed the case, the local municipalities couldn't do anything about it.
Under this new measure, if a D.A. doesn't prosecute, the local municipality can now level charges and prosecute.
Representative Jeremy Thiesfeldt, a Republican from Fond du Lac, was the sponsor of the Assembly version of the bill. I don't know Thiesfeldt but his legislative page shows a guy who looks like your average altar boy, and he is or has been a member of a lot of Lutheran organizations. Maybe Lutherans never smoke pot, which would make it the only religion around to make that claim.
I called his office this week but they weren't interested in taking too much about this measure. They just said the bill was on Scott Walker's desk and they were awaiting notification that he signed it. They just claimed it was only closing a "loophole" in the present law. I did get my hands on the press release issued by his office.
"This simple adjustment to the law will empower local governments such as the city of Fond du Lac," the representative said. "It will assure that those who violate marijuana possession laws will be much less likely to evade responsibility for their actions due to lack of prosecution by the District Attorney.
"This bill is necessary because of a disparity in the law that allows second-time and subsequent offenses to escape prosecution from the District Attorney, but first-time offenders are prosecuted by the municipality," he said. "This bill honors the work of police departments across the state to keep communities drug-free."
It almost sounds like he's talking about meth or heroin.
But he's not. This is about a little handful of pot and it's another indicator that the famed "Wisconsin Idea," honored across the country as a progressive style of government that favored the people, is an idea that nobody in our legislature seems to remember.
We continue to pitch our flag on the downward slope of intransigent phony morality and we ought to be ashamed of ourselves.
WI biggest obstacle to medical marijuana will be the state tavern league, and as we saw in WA, the police and prison worker unions. When those 3 groups are the biggest opponents it should make you think.
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