Pubdate: Mon, 1 Jun 2009
Source: Lakeland Times (Minocqua, WI)
Contact:  2009 Lakeland Times
Author: Gary Storck

Time for a Look at 'Undoing Counterproductive Blunder'

To the Editor:

State Rep. Dan Meyer (R-Eagle River) was quoted in The Lakeland Times
as saying in some cases, people who break the new workplace smoking
ban law may be punished more severely than some people who are found
with marijuana, "New state smoking ban law receives mixed reviews"
(May 26 edition).

As the article noted, Meyer's guesstimate of the cost of a Madison
ordinance violation for casual possession of marijuana was low. The
amount is actually $109 rather than the $15 amount being bandied about
by Meyer and other Assembly Republicans who opposed the bill.

If Rep. Meyer and his colleagues truly believe that the statewide
workplace smoking ban fine should be lowered to the cost of a Madison
ordinance violation, then it would only be fair that they introduce a
companion bill reducing statewide marijuana penalties to the same
amount as Madison's.

It is not fair to cannabis consumers in places outside Madison who
face misdemeanor or felony charges for the same amount of pot that
gets them a ticket in Madison.

Rep. Meyer should also look into reducing the penalty for pot
possession, second offense, any amount, at the state level. Under
current state law, someone might get just a ticket for a few joints in
Madison and some parts of Wisconsin, but then face a felony should it
happen twice.

But, if Meyer and his colleagues support current state marijuana laws,
it would then be consistent that a second smoking ban violation should
merit a felony, just like it is for the poor pot smoker.

In addition, cannabis consumers, unlike tobacco consumers, cannot
legally buy their substance of choice.

Complete fairness would call for Meyer to sponsor legislation creating
a legal market for cannabis, then taxing it to help state finances in
these troubled times, if he is able to stomach additional taxes.

That's what California State Rep. Tom Ammiano did recently. Even
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a staunch Republican, is now
saying California should explore legalizing and taxing pot.

While I may be writing slightly tongue in cheek, the fact is Wisconsin
and the entire nation are facing serious troubles. We can't continue
to fund programs that eat up tax dollars, like marijuana prohibition,
while funding basic services.

Should education and health care take the hit so we can keep arresting
our fellow citizens for pot, even medical users?

Or do we start undoing an unjust counterproductive blunder and embrace
the green industries that the cannabis plant can bring to our economy?

Gary Storck


Wisconsin chapter of National Organization for the Reform of 
Marijuana Laws (NORML)

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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake