Editorial: This is the worst time to legalize pot

TONY EVERS ARGUES Wisconsin’s drug problem is a “crisis” and says pot may be a gateway drug for some abusers yet is unwilling to condemn efforts to legalize recreational marijuana. He cedes his moral authority, in this case, to unsettled science. Ian Stepleton photo

Imagine you’re running for governor.

As you travel the state, a recovering addict friend tells you that opioids are “a scourge” in northern Wisconsin, where so many people are unable to loosen the grip that prescription drugs have on their bodies — and lives.

When you visit Wausau, you learn that more than 200 kids in Marathon County have been removed from their homes in a single year. They’ve been placed in foster care because their birth parents are too attentive to their own addictions to notice the trauma they’ve passively asked their children to assume.

You stop by Ripon and learn that volunteers have adopted the four-pillar approach to preventing, identifying and treating drug addiction, in response to an epidemic of people manufacturing, selling and abusing illegal substances.

Welcome to the world of Tony Evers, a Democrat hoping to be elected Wisconsin’s governor in a year.

The current state superintendent of schools was in Ripon and Green Lake recently campaigning by touting his leadership and sharing his views on the issues.

Among those issues is drug abuse, which Evers identifies as “a crisis.”

If a crisis is, as the Chinese say, a word denoting both danger and opportunity, Evers understands well the former but seems a little hazy on the latter.

He tentatively admits to believing that marijuana may be a gateway drug to the harder, more expensive, more dangerous substances. ...

1. smoking pot can lead to opioid addiction, and that

2. Wisconsin’s opioid abuse is at a crisis level,

then the logical conclusion for Evers to hold is that pot should remain a prohibited substance, right?

Not so fast.

The man who wants to lead our state equivocates on this issue.

“I think we have to go slow on the legalization piece,” Evers told the Commonwealth, noting making pot permissible would not be his priority. “I’m not convinced that the regulations are in place in other states. We can learn from other states.”

Yet one wonders why Evers has to look to other states’ experience to frame his own outlook on legalizing another mind-altering substance. “I do hear stories from people who are addicted that marijuana was their drug of choice at one time and it did escalate into opioid use,” he said. ...

— Tim Lyke

To read the entire editorial, see the Nov. 16, 2017 edition of the Ripon Commonwealth Press.

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