DARLINGTON – Those that spoke in public comment were divided on why marijuana should or should not be legal in the state of Wisconsin. In the end the Lafayette County Board of Supervisors passed the resolution opposing the legalization of marijuana in the State of Wisconsin.
The resolution the supervisors were voting on stated that Lafayette County did not approve of the legalization of marijuana at the state level, medicinal or otherwise. The resolution will not change anything in Lafayette County; it is just stating that the county does not approve of legalization of marijuana in Wisconsin.
Ash Kyrie Woolson of Argyle and Steve Acheson of Blanchardville both spoke out against the resolution. Woolson stated that of that money that would possibly be generated by the selling of medical marijuana, Lafayette County would not see any of it if the resolution went forward.
Acheson, who has spoken out numerous times about the legalization, added that he cares deeply for the veterans in this county and all affected by the resolution.
“I want to help the board understand that this resolution contains misinformation and faulty information,” said Acheson, citing that states with adult use cannabis laws have seen an eight percent reduction of use by teens and a nine percent reduction of those who regularly used it.
Four of the major veterans organizations in the state (Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), American Legion, Military Awarded the Purple Heart and Disabled American Veterans) are in support of a state wide medical cannabis program so, “veterans can have a safe access to a non-lethal natural alternative.”
Acheson then began to show the crowd the two gallon-sized Ziploc bags that contained prescription pills he was on before he began using medicinal marijuana.
“If you want to say you support veterans, you can no longer be standing against safe access to our medicine. We have scarified a lot for you and area asking for a small sacrifice back to not pass this resolution,” Acheson concluded.
Mark Kieler, Dave Ohnstad and Mark Reichers, all of Darlington, were for the resolution.
“I think it will lead to more problems than what it is going to take care of,” Kieler said.
“We have spent half a century trying to stop the use of tobacco because of adverse health affects. I fail to understand why we would want to legalize something that could be even worse,” Ohnstad stated.
“I think we are selling ourselves and our youth quite short on this. I think there might be a few people that would benefit. I think there is an awful lot of people will be hurt by it,” Reichers concluded.
Lafayette County Sheriff Reg Gill gave some history as to where this resolution came from. He heard this information from a Badger State Sheriff’s Association meeting in February. This same resolution and ordinance was passed in Florence County due to their concern with Michigan legalizing and didn’t want the shops coming into the county.
Gill said, “From a law enforcement stand point and a public health concern, the biggest issue I have is, I do not need more impaired drivers. We have enough of a problem with alcohol and now we are going to potentially start looking at this.”
District #8 County Board Supervisor Kriss Marion stated that there is a bill was introduced by Rep. Chris Taylor (D-Madison), Sen. Jon Erpenbach (D-Middleton) and Sen. Patrick Testin (R-Stevens Point) calling for the legalization of medical cannabis in Wisconsin.
“The Law Enforcement Committee has already flip-flopped on this subject. There has been a lot of confusion and opinions. This is the perfect topic to do a referendum on. A lot of information in this resolution is not backed up by footnotes. I am uncomfortable with this actual resolution. We need more information gathering,” Marion said.
County Board Chairman Jack Sauer asked the board where the county was going to come up with the money to pay for all the problems associated with marijuana.
“I am here to represent the tax payers in my district and I have heard from six of them and they are not in favor of [legalizing marijuana],” Sauer said.
Supervisor Tony Ruesga stated that of the nine people that contacted him from his district, only one person was in favor of legalization.
“Part of me says, ‘isn’t it about time we do something else?’” Supervisor Bob Boyle asked. “How many more prisons can we build? Isn’t it time for a change in strategy? No matter what we do, legal or not, we are still going to struggle with this. The other part of me says no we shouldn’t do it. I am all for trying something different, but at this point I don’t know what the other different is. Maybe legalization will do it but it needs to be decriminalized big time.”
Ruesga called for the questions. Gerald Heimann made the motion to approve the resolution with Andy Schilling seconding. The motion passed 12-4 with Ursula Fecht, Rita Buchholz, Boyle and Marion against.
Ordinance Prohibiting Marijuana Establishments
The county board had the first reading of an ordinance prohibiting the selling of marijuana in the county in the event the state legalizes marijuana.
The ordinance states that ‘all marijuana establishments are prohibited within the boundaries of Lafayette County. These include all resale or commercial selling of marijuana, or any product that contains marijuana, or drug paraphernalia’.
Any person who disobeys, neglects or refuses to comply with the ordinance can be fined not less than $100 or more than $5,000, in the discretion of the Court. Each day during which any violation continues shall be deemed a separate offense. The ordinance will take effect 30 days after notice of its adoption is published in the Republican Journal.
It was only the first reading so no action was taken on the ordinance, neither was their any discussion. At the next county board meeting on Oct. 15 at 7:30 p.m., the ordinance will be able to be discussed and action taken on it.