Southeastern Wisconsin NORML releases survey of Dem gubernatorial candidate's cannabis positions

Posted: April 20, 2018 by Gary Storck
Category: Politics

Just in time for 4/20, Southeastern Wisconsin NORML has released the results of a 12 question survey on cannabis that was sent to each of the Democratic gubernatorial candidates seeking the nomination in the August primary election.

Six candidates responded from the large field of Democrats running: former Wisconsin Democracy Campaign head Mike McCabe, former Democratic Party chair Matt Flynn, radio host Mike Crute, who recently joined the race, Madison Mayor Paul Soglin, former state Rep. Kelda Roys and businessman Andy Gronik. Among leading candidates not responding were Wisconsin Superintendent of Schools Tony Evers, Sen. Kathleen Vinehout and firefighter's union head Mahlon Mitchell. In a Jan. 29 post, Cannabadger reported on the positions of 7 of the 9 leading candidates and Michele Doolan and Bob Harlow, who have since dropped out and endorsed Matt Flynn.

The SEWINORML website has posted both summaries of responses to their survey as well as more detailed responses from the six candidates to the full 12-question survey, which may be accessed by clicking on the candidate's name on the summaries page. The summaries present responses to five of the questions, asking if they supported: Legal recreational cannabis, allowing home grow, allowing smoking lounges and/or patios, allowing Legal medical and supporting pardons for cannabis convictions.

Of the six candidates who responded, Five: McCabe, Flynn, Crute, Soglin and Roys all responded Yes to allowing recreational cannabis, with Gronik saying it should be put to a statewide referendum.

Regarding allowing home cultivation of cannabis, 4 of the 6 responded in the affirmative, with Soglin and Gronik responding No. Soglin's response is rather surprising given his long career serving as Madison mayor on and off since the early 1970s. Soglin not only presided over the passage of Madison's historic marijuana ordinance but attended the 1976 NORML Conference in Washington D.C.

Soglin's campaign recently released a poll conducted March 16-19 that found Evers, who did not respond to the survey, with a commanding lead over the rest of the Democratic primary field. Evers had 30 percent with Soglin next at 17 percent when voters were read a list of names in the field. With descriptions added to the candidates, the respondents put Evers at 25 percent, Soglin at 23 percent, with the only other candidate in double digits being state Sen. Kathleen Vinehout, D-Alma, according to the Capital Times.

All six candidates surveyed responded positively to allowing cannabis smoking lounges and/or patios, with McCabe, Flynn, and Crute giving an unqualified Yes response. Soglin responded, "Yes, if permitted by the municipality," Roys said "Yes, within confines of current indoor smoking ban" and Gronik said he "Would seek guidance on this question from the states that have legalized marijuana".

All six responded with Yes to the question of legalizing medical cannabis.

When it came to the final question of pardoning cannabis convictions, Gronik's response was the only No, although his expanded response includes more reasoning behind his answer. Crute and Roys responded with unqualified Yes answers, while the other three candidates qualified their answers with written responses. McCabe vowed to pardon "Non-violent convictions for possessing, growing, selling or using cannabis." Disappointingly, Flynn limited his pardon vow only to "Non-violent convictions for simple possession." Soglin's qualified answer was that he would pardon "Almost everyone" with cannabis convictions.

Southeastern Wisconsin's survey adds some clarity to the positions of six of the 2018 Democratic gubernatorial candidates, but it's frustrating that top candidates like Evers, Vinehout, Wachs and Mitchell did not see fit to respond yet they seek the votes of Wisconsin cannabis consumers. And even though they may have stated positions at candidate forums and other venues, surveys like this allow them to give more detailed responses.

While the overall responses from the six who responded show that things would likely vastly improve if any of them won the nomination and beat incumbent Gov. Scott Walker this November, the failure of Soglin and Gronik to grasp the importance of home cultivation and endorse it as a critical component of cannabis legalization should give pause to voters. More disappointing though is the failure of the leading candidate according to several polls, Tony Evers, to take this opportunity to expand on past positions by completing the survey, along with fellow candidates Vinerhout, Wachs and Mitchell.