With the start of the new legislative session, there has been a flood of articles about cannabis and Wisconsin. Among them I discovered a real nugget in a story from the Wisconsin Radio Network (WRN) January 6, by Andrew Beckett, “Governor Scott Walker open to improving access to CBD oil,” discussing the proposal being sponsored again by Sen. Van Wanggaard (R-Racine). Incidentally, Wanggaard was quoted in the Minneapolis Star Tribune Jan. 8 as saying “he’d consider legalizing medical marijuana with the right limitations, but not now.” He joins Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos in recently stating they were open to whole plant medical cannabis legislation.
Wisconsin Radio Network’s report included the full audio of Walker’s views on the CBD oil bill and on legalization of cannabis for adult or medical use. I listened to and transcribed the brief (1:48) audio (see below), and even with the transcript the audio is worth a listen for all the nuances of a live interview, not just what was said but how it was said. Cannabadger also has a timeline of Gov. Walker’s statements on cannabis here.
WRN only excerpted a couple Walker quotes for the article, about the CBD bill and his opposition to legalization. Listening to the full audio revealed some interesting comments on this subject. Walker believes there’s little interest in the legislature, regardless of party, in going further than passing the revised CBD bill. This is something a good number of members might dispute, even in times of record Republican majorities in both houses. Last session saw numerous cannabis-related bills, the majority sponsored by Democrats. This session there will be Democratic-sponsored bills from Rep. Melissa Sargent (D-Madison), Rep. Chris Taylor (D-Madison) and others. On the GOP side the CBD bill, and likely an industrial hemp bill as well, from Rep. Jesse Kremer (R-Kewaskum).
In the audio Walker also again retells his story of Dane County Sheriff Dave Mahoney asking to please not legalize marijuana, which caused a stir a couple years ago when Walker first said it. More recently, Mahoney told WKOW in Oct. 2016 that he would consider supporting the legalization of medical marijuana, but under no circumstances will he support recreational use: “I don’t believe that we are at a point that we know that Marijuana is not an entry drug and I don’t think we are at the point that Marijuana has no lasting effects.”
Here is the full transcript of the audio of Gov. Walker from WRN:
“Previously the legislature passed a very narrow provision that really is about specifically addressing what’s rather unique amongst families with children who have severe seizure problems, this very narrow exemption was provided to use the oil that they believe could help in that regard. The way that was drafted I think subsequently many of us looked at and said while the intent was to provide that, it didn’t really allow access to that, so I think there will be a thorough discussion in the legislature if it has a narrow focus in a situation where that’s the only viable alternative, particularly for these families with children with seizures, I think it makes sense to have a narrow exceptions to that.
I am not, just speaking very personally, not to these two or to the task force, I am not interested in opening the door towards legalizing marijuana, be it overall or even for medical marijuana, because I think studies show medically there are much more viable alternatives within the health care community to provide assistance in these other venues but in a case where it can be proven where it’s just that narrow focus I think there’s a willingness to go back and correct or narrowly define and correct what we passed before.
I don’t think there’s an interest in the legislature, regardless of party, to go much further than that, and there certainly is not in law enforcement and the treatment community.
I’ve even heard from the Sheriff of Dane County who is a Democrat and Dane County you might expect something differently from. He himself has said to me along with other sheriffs and police chiefs “please do not legalize marijuana, it is a gateway drug, it opens the door to all sorts of other challenges out there,” and I think that’s probably where the legislature is sitting.”