Dear Editor: It was good to see Gov. Scott Walker sign legislation legalizing a form of medical marijuana to treat pediatric seizure disorders. However, Walker's signature does not mean that the children, whose stories moved usually stern lawmakers to tears, will see their medicine anytime soon.
According to Paul Armentano, deputy director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, under the law, multiple federal agencies will have to give their approval — "a process that typically takes several years." Given Walker's rejection of billions in federal aid for high-speed rail and Medicaid, why is he now deferring to federal regulators to make critical decisions regarding the health of state children?
Since the governor now acknowledges that marijuana can be a safe treatment for even young children, he could have insisted that state lawmakers instead pass comprehensive legislation like AB 480/SB 363, the Jacki Rickert Medical Cannabis Act. If passed, the JRMCA would create a state medical marijuana program like those in the 21 states that have enacted laws that do not rely on federal approvals.
Comprehensive medical cannabis laws like the JRMCA have benefits beyond pain relief. Studies have found reductions in drunken driving fatalities and suicides in states that have legalized medical cannabis. Implementation of the JRMCA would create new jobs and businesses. Most of all, this is something with long-term majority support, unlike most of the 55 bills that Walker signed.
An illusion of progress may be better than no progress at all, but thousands of Wisconsinites of all ages still need legal access to medical cannabis today.
co-founder, Is My Medicine Legal YET?