This week's political potcast goes up in smoke with state Sen.-elect Melissa Agard, the unlikely face of efforts to legalize marijuana in Wisconsin.
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Agard, D-Madison, is the opposite of the "Cheech and Chong" stoner cliche. She's a single mom of four boys who tells Milfred and Hands she's never used the drug but is absolutely convinced that legalizing it will make Wisconsin safer.
While only fellow Democrats have sponsored her bill to legalize marijuana in past legislative sessions, Agard says some Republicans have told her they would support her proposal if she can get it to committees next year.
The State Journal editorial board endorsed legalization recently, citing marijuana dispensaries along the state line in South Beloit and, soon, in Upper Michigan near Marinette. Illinois and Michigan allow recreational marijuana, with Minnesota legalizing medical marijuana and committing to full legalization. In the Nov. 3 election, New Jersey, Arizona, Montana and South Dakota voted to let adults smoke pot for enjoyment, bringing to 15 the number of states that have legalized cannabis. Some pro-pot states are Republican strongholds, such as Oklahoma.
Allowing the sale and possession of the drug will free up law enforcement to focus on more serious crimes. It will bring in hundreds of millions in tax revenue to state and local governments, and allow consumers to know they're buying a regulated product with quality and safety standards.
"Cannabis prohibition in Wisconsin is very dangerous," Agard says, "and actually legalizing cannabis in Wisconsin will make us a safer society."
“Center Stage, with Milfred and Hands” is the State Journal’s weekly podcast from the sensible center of Wisconsin politics. It features Scott Milfred, the newspaper’s editorial page editor, and Phil Hands, our political cartoonist.
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