Updated: Timeline: Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker on marijuana

Posted: July 13, 2015 by Gary Storck
Category: Politics

UPDATED 10/20/2018 Cannabadger has assembled the following comprehensive timeline of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s statements about cannabis, starting back in 2010, with the most recent addition to the timeline on top. The timeline begins in Sept., 2010 and now includes 29 statements or actions by Gov. Walker regarding hemp, cannabis and medical cannabis through Oct. 19, 2018.

October 19, 2018 On Friday, Oct. 19, 2018, Gov. Walker twice addressed the topic of cannabis legalization in his first gubernatorial debate with Wisconsin School Superintendent Tony Evers, the Democratic nominee for governor.

Changing the subject from a question regarding drunk driving penalties, Walker said, “And beyond, that’s part of the reason why I’ve raised concerns after talking to law enforcement people and public health people about legalizing marijuana. I just saw a report from Canada that said I believe in Canada now they actually see a higher number of vehicle-related crashes related to drugs as opposed to alcohol. We need to make sure we don’t have any impaired driving whether its alcohol-related or drug-related as well.” A few minutes letter, responding to a question on cannabis legalization, Walker reprised his classic response citing the gateway theory: “Well for years I’ve listened to public health officials and law enforcement officials, even here in Dane County, who’ve pleaded with us not to legalize marijuana ’cause they’re concerned it’s a gateway drug to other drugs and we’ve seen the addictions with opioids, with heroin, with meth in certain parts of the state. So yeah, per your point about the juice, we’ve actually used that, we’ve modified that multiple times now for kids with seizures, we’ve legalized industrial hemp which helps many of our farmers, but outright legalization, I think from the folks in law enforcement and public health, they said that would be a big problem.”

July 11, 2018 On Wednesday July 11, speaking at a ribbon cutting in Oshkosh for a highway project, Gov. Scott Walker once again regurgitated the standard response he recites when asked about cannabis legalization. WLUK Fox 11 reported that Walker said, “Law enforcement has told me repeatedly it is a gateway drug. We already have problems with addiction with opioids, with heroin, with meth, and others. The pleas have come from law enforcement and public health not to legalize it in the state.” https://fox11online.com/news/election/candidates/democrats-hope-for-adva...

May 13, 2018 On Sunday, May 13, 2018, Gov. Walker appeared on the WISN/WisPolitics produced “UPFRONT with Mike Gousha.” http://www.wisn.com/article/walker-no-support-for-legalizing-marijuana/2... Gousha asked him about legalization and Walker offered a response with yet another reference to the debunked “Gateway Theory” Mike Gousha: I want to ask you about something you do not talk about on the campaign trail, but democrats are talking about it more. It is the subject of legalization of marijuana. What is your position on that right now? Many democrats who say they would work to legalize it. Gov. Walker: I would not. Whether it is in Dane county, one of the most liberal counties or anywhere else across the state, when i talk to law- enforcement and talk to people dealing with the crisis we deal with opioids and drugs, whether it is heroin or others, I hear it all the time. Do not legalize marijuana. It is a gateway drug. It opens up other problems.

May 14, 2018 In a May 14, 2018 article in The Capital Times http://host.madison.com/ct/news/local/govt-and-politics/scott-walker-s-c..., “Scott Walker’s campaign stump speech challenged in interview,” Lisa Speckhard Pasque reported that Walker discussed cannabis in his 2018 WI GOP convention speech: “Many Democratic candidates for governor have spoken in favor of legal medical and recreational marijuana for the state. Walker said law enforcement and other drug crisis workers around Wisconsin warn him against this, calling marijuana a gateway drug that “opens the door to other problems they see escalating across the state.”

May 4, 2018 Responding to Wisconsin AG Brad Schimel’s April 27 pronouncement that CBD production and sale and possession of CBD products in Wisconsin is illegal, Gov. Scott Walker, in Wausau, said he wanted lawmakers to consider a solution to allow CBD oil to be manufactured in the state because of the health benefits, according to a report by Channel3000. http://www.wkow.com/story/38117254/2018/05/Friday/gov-walker-asks-lawmak... “We’re going to have to figure it out to address that concern because our bottom line is help families, very limited circumstances, where kids have seizures and in particular this is a way to help them with those seizures — it’s proven.” http://www.wkow.com/story/38117254/2018/05/Friday/gov-walker-asks-lawmak...

February 1, 2018 Gov. Walker response to a letter supporting cannabis legalization shared on Wisconsin NORML Facebook page reiterates debunked and discredited “Gateway Theory.” Thank you for sharing your thoughts on marijuana legalization in Wisconsin. I appreciate hearing from you. Despite the fact that some states have enacted laws permitting people to use marijuana, it remains illegal under federal law. In my discussions with parents, teachers, sheriffs and other members of the law enforcement community, I routinely hear concerns that marijuana is often the drug that opens the door to other drug use. With that in mind it is important to consider the effects marijuana legalization could have on our families and friends. As governor, the health, safety and security of all Wisconsinites is my number one priority. Again, thanks for sharing your thoughts on the issue. Please stay in touch as we work to move Wisconsin forward. Sincerely, Scott Walker Governor

November 30, 2017 After quietly signing SB119, the industrial hemp bill, Gov. Scott Walker’s office put out a release, “Governor Walker Signs 36 Bills Into Law,” that included short descriptions of the 36 bills. While the rest were only a paragraph long, the description of SB119 stretched four paragraphs: https://walker.wi.gov/press-releases/governor-walker-signs-36-bills-law-0 Senate Bill 119 – This bill creates an industrial hemp pilot program to be administered by DATCP. The pilot program is to study the growth, cultivation and marketing of industrial hemp and to establish rules for the industrial hemp program in a manner that maximizes opportunity within the boundaries of federal law. In addition, DATCP has 90 days to have a system for licensing growers participating in the industrial hemp pilot program and charging an annual fee. While federal law currently only allows for a pilot program, SB 119 provides a framework for Wisconsin if there is a change in federal law that expands industrial hemp. This framework would allow for Wisconsin farmers to diversify their crop production and grow industrial hemp as an agricultural commodity. Authored by Senator Patrick Testin (R—Stevens Point) and Representative Jesse Kremer (R—Kewaskum), the bill passed the Senate on a vote of 33-0 and was concurred by the Assembly on a vote of 92-0. It is Act 100.

November 09, 2017 After the Senate passed the industrial hemp bill SB119 on Nov. 7 in a unanimous 33-0 vote and the Assembly passed it in a unanimous 92-0 vote Nov. 9, Gov. Walker’s spokesman Tom Evenson was quoted in media sources as saying the governor “would review the bill but did not commit to signing it.” http://wislawjournal.com/2017/11/09/wisconsin-assembly-to-pass-industria... This raises the question, why would Walker not sign or even a bill sponsored by Republicans that passed both houses unanimously in the same week?

October 18, 2017 After the Senate Agriculture Committee passed SB119 on a unanimous 9-0 vote, WMTV NBC15 of Madison reported Gov. Walker said through a spokesperson, “the governor will review the bill if it gets to his desk.” http://www.nbc15.com/content/news/Sauk-County-farmer-interested-in-being...

October 10, 2017 WEAU,com reported on Gov. Walker’s response to a question about bipartisan Republican-authored industrial hemp legislation SB119, on the day of a Senate hearing on the bill: http://www.weau.com/content/news/Committee-to-hold-hearing-on-hemp-farmi... “During a stop at Cadott High School Tuesday, Governor Scott Walker was showing his support for school aid and shared he had some concerns about the hemp legislation. “It’s early in the process and it’s certainly something we’ll look at. Overall, looking at this I have a concern in anything that would lead to legalization, mainly because as we fight opioid and heroin abuse across the state, one of the things I hear for public health and law enforcement and others is anything that’s a gateway into some of these other areas is a big, big concern. We hear it from small towns to big cities and everywhere in between,” says Walker.” July 20, 2017 Wisconsin Public Radio reports in an article titled, “Walker Defends Accepting Pro-Marijuana Organization’s Donation To GOP Governors Group” Walker spoke to reporters in Green Bay on Thursday. http://www.wpr.org/walker-defends-accepting-pro-marijuana-organizations-... The governor also indicated a $25,000 donation won’t sway the organization. “If you look at that dollar amount versus the tens of millions of dollars we’ve raised, I doubt that has any more influence,” he said. Walker added that any money wouldn’t sway his agenda. “We make public policy decisions not based on who donates to any organization, but rather what’s good for the people of our state,” he said. Apparently Walker feels its up to him to decide the will of the people of the state rather than the people, of which as of July 2016 at least 59% support legal pot according to the Marquette Law School Poll.

July 18, 2017 One Wisconsin Now reveals http://onewisconsinnow.org/press/gov-scott-walker-on-drugs/ that on Feb. 17, 2017, two days after stating he supported the CBD bill, Gov. Walker, who heads the Republican Governors Association (RGA), accepted a $25,000 donation from the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) on behalf of the organization on February 7, 2017. The NCIA touts itself as, “… the nation’s only industry-led organization engaging in legislative efforts to expand and further legitimize the legal cannabis market in the U.S.” The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported, “There is no evidence that Walker solicited the donation, but he did tout RGA’s fundraising efforts. A spokesman for Walker did not immediately respond to the accusations. ”

April 17, 2017 At a signing ceremony in Burlington, Gov. Scott Walker signed into law 2017 Wisconsin Act 4 legalizing possession of cannabidiol (CBD) with a doctor’s note. https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/2017/related/acts/4 February 15, 2017 The Associated Press reported in an article, “Gov. Walker supports CBD oil bill:” http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/politics-government/national-politics/ar... “Gov. Scott Walker says he supports a measure that would legalize possession of a marijuana extract used to treat seizures. Walker told reporters Wednesday that he’s mainly concerned about opening the door to full-fledged legalization of marijuana but the bill appears to be crafted narrowly enough to avoid that.”

February 9, 2017 WIZM La Crosse reports Scott Walker paid a visit to Western Technical College in La Crosse on Feb. 9 where he discussed CBD legislation and marijuana legalization: http://1410wizm.com/index.php/item/29526-gov-walker-at-wtc-gives-thought... “Walker told reporters he would sign a bill to permit the use of CBD oil for treating seizures, because it’s only an extract from the marijuana plant. Talks into legalizing pot, like Minnesota is having right now, is not happening, however. “I do not, however, support measures that would open the door with legalized use of marijuana in state,” Walker said, “because law enforcement, increasingly, from one end of the state to another, from democrats as well as republican sheriffs, have told me, ‘Do not legalize marijuana, it is a gateway drug to other drugs.'” February 06, 2017 The Capital Times reports in an article about a press conference announcing medical cannabis legislation and a proposed mmj advisory referendum, “Wisconsin Democrats introduce bills aimed at legalizing medical marijuana,” that “A Walker spokesman said the governor’s position on the issue has not changed.” http://host.madison.com/ct/news/local/govt-and-politics/election-matters... Fox 11 News reported this reaction from Gov. Walker: “At a stop in Brown County, Governor Scott Walker did not say if he would support the bill, but did say he’s heard from law enforcement agencies who are against legalizing medical marijuana. http://fox11online.com/news/state/wisconsin-lawmakers-push-to-legalize-m... “They’ve said that this could be a gateway, and at a time where we already have a crisis with opioids and other abuse in the state,” said Walker.” Despite widespread debunking, citing the Gateway Theory is a frequent go-to pot question answer for Walker. And it always references law enforcement as if that makes them the last word on the issue.

January 05, 2017 During a stop in Green Bay, Scott Walker expresses support for CBD legislation in an interview with the Wisconsin Radio Network, https://www.wrn.com/2017/01/governor-scott-walker-open-to-improving-acce... says: “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. ” TRANSCRIPT August 18, 2016 Wisconsin Radio Network reported comments by Scott Walker in response to allegations of election fraud in a column written by Donald Trump supporter and prominent Republican Roger Stone: “Asked about the column on Thursday, the governor brushed it off, saying only that it’s “apparently that’s what the long term effect is of legalizing marijuana in the District of Columbia.” https://www.wrn.com/2016/08/governor-walker-dismisses-claim-that-wiscons...

July 22, 2015 Walker ended his presidential campaign on Sept. 21, 2015, but in July 2015, he again endorsed prohibition. BuzzFeedNews reports that when asked about cannabis during an interview on KTRS St Louis News and Talk Radio, Scott Walker said he would enforce federal laws that ban the sale and use of marijuana in states were it has been legalized. http://www.buzzfeed.com/andrewkaczynski/buzzkill-scott-walker-would-go-a... BuzzFeed reported Walker said that he personally believes it is a state issue, but until federal law is changed, it needs to be enforced. He added that he was against the legalization of marijuana. Host: In 30 seconds would your Justice Department go after Colorado for legalized marijuana sales? Scott Walker: For me I think that should be a state issue but I also think that you can’t ignore the laws. And until the federal government changes the laws you don’t get to pick and choose in a just society whether you enforce the laws or not. You have to change them. Host: So yes, you would go after Colorado? Scott Walker – Well, I would enforce the law that was on the books no matter what it is. And again if we are going to change it, change it in the Congress. I believe it is a states issue, so I don’t have a problem changing it. I don’t think marijuana is something that should be legalized, I’ve opposed it at my own state because law enforcement in both political parties have warned me that that’s a gateway drug, they worry it would open the door to others out there. But to me I still think that’s something best handled at the state level. But the federal level, you’ve got to change the law. You don’t just get to pick and choose what laws you enforce.

April 1, 2015 The Washington Times quoted a Walker spokesperson in regards to his position federal marijuana policy: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/apr/1/gop-hopefuls-criticize-ob... AshLee Strong, press secretary for Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s Our American Revival political action committee, said: “There are currently federal laws on the books that must be enforced, but ultimately he believes the best place to handle this issue is in the states.”

March 31, 2015 In response to a question about marijuana legalization at a luncheon in Phoenix emceed by conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt, Walker said he opposed legalizing marijuana, citing a conversation he’d had with Dane County Sheriff Dave Mahoney, a Democrat. http://host.madison.com/news/local/govt-and-politics/dave-mahoney-backed... “I mean, it’s left of Pravda,” Walker said of the political views of county residents, which he compared to the Communist Russian newspaper. “Even there, the Democrat sheriff said to me last year when this issue came up, ‘Whatever you do, please do not sign the legalization of marijuana,'” Walker said. “This was a guy who spent his whole career in law enforcement. He was liberal on a whole lot of other issues. But he said it’s a gateway drug.”

Feb. 04, 2015 Walker was asked if he had ever smoked pot after fellow candidate U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz admitted smoking cannabis as a teen. http://www.jsonline.com/watchdog/noquarter/scott-walker-on-vaccinations-... Walker responded “No, The wildest thing I did in college was have a beer.” Walker had not been specifically asked if he smoked pot in college.

Sep. 18, 2014 In coverage about Madison Police Chief Mike Koval’s support for Wisconsin legalizing the adult use of cannabis, Walker was asked his opinion of legalization: http://www.wkow.com/story/26573085/2014/09/18/madison-police Governor Scott Walker, on a campaign stop in Beloit Thursday, cited the state of Colorado in discussing why he is opposed to legalizing marijuana. Colorado and Washington have both legalized recreational marijuana. “As much as (Colorado has) brought revenues in, they’ve also increased costs related to social services and law enforcement,” Walker said. “So I think it’s a long ways out before it’s clear as to what if anything would happen.” Walker said he does not expect the Wisconsin legislature to legalize marijuana.

Apr 16, 2014 Walker signed a bill that allows children to take CBD oil, which is derived from whole plant cannabis. He stressed legalizing CBD oil wasn’t the same as legalizing pot. http://www.channel3000.com/news/politics/walker-signs-marijuana-oil-into... “It’s very controlled, from the examining board and oversight by pharmacists and physicians and I think that’s important moving forward,” Walker said. “This is not in any way what we see with other laws across the country.” The article continued that the CBD oil could be available as early as the fall, but ultimately it became clear the bill was written so restrictively that no patients could access CBD oil legally. The sponsors of last year’s law have a proposal to fix the law by repealing the requirement for a prescription. The bill, AB228, is opposed by the Wisconsin Medical Society and several law enforcement groups. Earlier in April 2014, Dane County Wisconsin voters cast ballots 56% in favor of legalizing cannabis in a non-binding county advisory referendum.

Mar. 02, 2014 Asked by Fox 6Now about new legislation being proposed by Rep. Melissa Sargent (D-Madison), Gov. Walker said, “I don’t think you’re going to see anything serious anytime soon here, but if other states did, maybe in the next Legislative session there’d be more talk about it.” http://fox6now.com/2014/03/02/gov-walker-says-not-right-now-on-legalizin... Fox6Now also reported, “despite the fact that Rep. Sargent has introduced LRB 3671, the consensus among state law enforcement officials seems to be that marijuana is a “gateway drug,” and should remain illegal. Gov. Walker agrees, but says he isn’t completely shutting the door on this issue.” “It may be something that resonates in the future, but I just don’t see any movement for it right now,” Gov. Walker told Fox6Now.

Feb. 13, 2014 In comments from an article by Jack Craver in the Capital Times, http://host.madison.com/news/local/writers/jack_craver/scott-walker-big-... Walker supported the many times discredited theory that cannabis is a dangerous “gateway” to riskier substances, such as heroin and methamphetamine after attending a meeting of Wisconsin sheriffs. Walker also rejected comparisons between pot and booze, suggesting that people can enjoy themselves responsibly over beers in a way that they can’t by sharing a joint. “If I’m at a wedding reception here and somebody has a drink or two, most people wouldn’t say they’re wasted,” he said. “Most folks with marijuana wouldn’t be sitting around a wedding reception smoking marijuana.” “Now there are people who abuse (alcohol), no doubt about it, but I think it’s a big jump between someone having a beer and smoking marijuana,” he added.

December 14, 2012 After the voters in Washington and Colorado passed laws legalizing the adult use of cannabis, Walker was quoted in an Associated Press roundup of where states stood on legalization. https://lacrossetribune.com/news/local/state-and-regional/walker-not-int... While Walker references a referendum, there could be two possible routes. Lawmakers can place an advisory referendum on the ballot by passing a Senate resolution, or as a constitutional amendment which first be passed by state lawmakers, put before voters and then passed again by the legislature the following session.

In January 2017, Sen. Jon Erpenbach (D-Middleton) and Rep. Chris Taylor (D-Madison), introduced legislation to put a medical cannabis advisory referendum before state voters in the Nov. 2018 general election. WISCONSIN: Republican Gov. Scott Walker said Friday he’s not interested in legalizing marijuana. The only way he sees it happening is if state residents approve the idea in a referendum similar to Colorado and Washington. Walker gas not yet responded publicly to the advisory referendum proposal, but he does seem to support the concept in these comments.

Sept. 09, 2010 The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel posted then-gubernatorial candidates Tom Barrett, Mark Neumann and then-Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker’s positions on legalizing medical cannabis: http://archive.jsonline.com/blogs/news/102486709.html Do you support the legalization of medical marijuana? Scott Walker: No. Federal law still classifies marijuana as a Schedule 1 narcotic and I believe state law should reflect this as well.