Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle is a former county prosecutor and state attorney general. He's always maintained a tough stance when it comes to drug use and abuse - so tough that, at times, we have criticized his positions.
So when Doyle says it is time to legalize medical marijuana, as he did last week, legislators should take notice.
The governor said during an appearance in Wausau that he has no problem with the use of marijuana to treat severe pain and other medical conditions, if the treatment is prescribed by a doctor.
In a discussion after a decision by the Obama administration not to prosecute users and suppliers of medical marijuana in the 14 states where it's been legalized, Doyle made the important point that restricting the use of medical marijuana is senseless when doctors can already prescribe more powerful drugs such as morphine.
The governor is framing this discussion in precisely the right terms.
Members of the Assembly and Senate should respond by taking up a proposal sponsored by a pair of key legislators, Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Madison, and Sen. Jon Erpenbach, D-Waunakee. The measure would protect Wisconsin patients from prosecution and allow them or a designated caregiver to possess and grow a small amount of cannabis for medical use.
"It is time that we address medical marijuana as an issue of providing comprehensive health care to all people," Pocan and Erpenbach explain in a memo recently distributed to legislators. "The patient and their doctor should have as many options as possible available when treating a patient's medical condition."
The governor agrees.
This should be easy. Pass the bill. Then Doyle can sign it and Wisconsin will have enacted at least some health care reform legislation this year.