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Angela Janis: Melissa Sargent has been a tireless advocate for cannabis legalization

Angela Janis: Melissa Sargent has been a tireless advocate for cannabis legalization

Dear Editor: In her time as a state representative, Melissa Sargent has been a champion for ending the prohibition of cannabis in Wisconsin, and has truly helped shape the conversation about full legalization in our state. From the benefits of medicinal use to economic benefits, the data has shown time and time again that legalizing cannabis is the right thing to do for Wisconsin. For those struggling with chronic pain, illness or other health issues, we need cannabis to be legalized to ensure that these people are receiving the care that they deserve. It is far overdue that the state of Wisconsin legalizes cannabis; not only would it serve tremendous value to those who need it, but it can also produce profitable tax revenue — and again, data has shown the vast economic benefits for the states that have legalized marijuana.

The issue of cannabis legalization is especially salient right now, as cannabis arrests in Wisconsin and across the nation disproportionately impact people of color. The failed "war on drugs" has contributed to the normalization of a militarized police force and helped create the environment for such rampant police violence and discrimination. Reports from other states have demonstrated that legal cannabis sales can cut down on unnecessary arrests and incarcerations.

Melissa has been a leader on the legalization of cannabis even before it became a more mainstream and popular opinion, as she has always been a pioneer for progressive issues that can offer better well-being for our families, friends, and neighbors. As I have worked with her on this issue, I have been continually impressed with her acquisition of knowledge and engagement with many community stakeholders to ensure that Wisconsin is able to enact the best law, incorporating lessons learned from previous states that have legalized. Melissa knows that the prohibition in our state does more harm than good, and I am glad that I can count on her to be a strong advocate for cannabis reform. Being a great leader means taking tough positions, even when they go against the grain. We need more leaders who are willing to be a voice for their constituents, rather than doing what is politically convenient– Melissa Sargent has a proven track record of doing just that, and will make an excellent addition to the Wisconsin state Senate.

Angela Janis, MD


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