WBAYOshkosh -

The 2012 elections saw the legalization of marijuana in two states, and now the idea is making its way to Wisconsin.

A group at a public forum in Oshkosh Wednesday night discussed why legalizing the drug would benefit the state.

You might not expect someone advocating for the legalization of marijuana to say, “I can’t think of any good reason not to regulate marijuana.”

martin-rich-norml Rich Martin

Richard Martin explains, “We would like to see marijuana taxed and regulated and kept out of kids’ hands. We would like to see it used by responsible adults. That’s what we advocate for.”

Martin is director of Northern Wisconsin NORML, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.

Inside the Oshkosh Public Library, a panel held a forum on legalizing marijuana, presented by the Fox Valley American Civil Liberties Union.

One of the panelists, a doctor, emphasized its medical benefits. Another talked about the economic impact of expected revenue if marijuana were legally sold.

“Including the tax revenue… amounts to about $13.7 billion,” Haiprasad Trivedi, MD, said.

But the recurring theme of the discussion was that keeping marijuana illegal was not making a difference. In their opinion, it’s making things worse.

“The more we try to repress drug use, the greater the drug use becomes,” Jim Gierach of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and former Chicago prosecutor, said.

The forum was meant to inform, but the panelists hope people who attended would spread the education towards the goal of legalizing marijuana in Wisconsin and throughout the country.

“The Prohibition model does not work as compared to other models, so we need to implement a new model,” THC Indicastries cannabis consultant Jay Selthofner said.

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  • Although marijuana remains illegal under federal law, two states recently passed their own laws legalizing it.
  • In November, voters in Colorado and Washington made those states the first in the US to legalize the sale and possession of cannabis for anyone 21 and older.
  • Similar recreational legalization bills have been filed in six others states: Hawaii, Maine, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont.
  • Medical marijuana is legal in 18 states. With written documentation from a physician, patients can possess, use, and in some states even grow a certain number of marijuana plants.
  • Medical marijuana legislation is pending in another 11 states.
  • A total of 14 states have decriminalized marijuana. Most of those states have civil fines, drug education, or drug treatment in place of incarceration or criminal charges for possession of small amounts of marijuana. Some have also made various marijuana offenses the lowest priority for law enforcement.

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