A farm's barn located in Arnott, Wisconsin.

William Garrett

MMJ Bills Introduced in Wisconsin

Democrats in Wisconsin have introduced two bills that would legalize medical cannabis in the state, but will face opposition from a Republican-dominated Legislature and Gov. Scott Walker, according to a Capital Times report. The first piece would allow patients with qualifying conditions to access cannabis products; the second would put the issue to voters in a nonbinding voter referendum.

The bill cosponsors, Sen. Jon Erpenbach and Rep. Chris Taylor, say that if measure legalizing medical cannabis use doesn’t gain legislative traction, lawmakers could support asking voters to weigh in on the issue.

“This will lead to law-abiding citizens who have chronic diseases and health issues we can’t even begin to imagine, to put them in a situation where they don’t have to break the law anymore,” Erpenbach said in the report.

Supporters are hoping that lawmakers could get behind the idea amid a national opioid crisis. The governor called for a legislative special session earlier this year, directing legislators to develop proposals aimed at combatting heroin and opioid abuse.

Two studies have shown that medical cannabis has promise as a way to reduce opioid use; a 2016 University of Michigan study found a 64 percent reduction in opioid painkiller use. A 2014 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed a 25 percent reduction in opioid-related deaths in states with medical cannabis programs compared to those without.

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