Recently there have been some glimmers of sanity appearing in the government's attitude towards drugs, with President Obama issuing an executive order to the Justice Department in 2009 requesting an end to raids on medical marijuana dispensaries in states where weed has been legalized for medicinal purposes. The War on Drugs, however, is far from over, and politicians continue to try and score easy points with the public by crafting policies and legislation that attack drugs as the source of all society's ills, all the while distracting the legal system with petty cases against small-time users and stealing resources from efforts to reduce more serious crime. A perfect example of these misguided laws is the recent ban on sales of the psychotropic plant Salvia divinorum, sponsored by Representative Sheldon Wasserman. Users of Salvia divinorum reportedly experience a brief hallucinogenic effect that lasts less than five or ten minutes, and the active compound in the plant, salvinorin A, is currently being used in research for the treatment of depression, Alzheimer's, and many other disorders and diseases. Representative Wasserman, however, is on record saying that "there is no medical purpose for this product, it is completely for getting high, getting stoned." In spite of this damning statement, a provision in Assembly Bill 186 is made for "any dosage form of salvinorin A that may be obtained from a retail establishment without a prescription and that is recognized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as a homeopathic drug." Both salvia's use in medical testing and exceptions in the very bill that bans the drug call into question Representative Wasserman's reasons for sponsoring this law in the first place; the entire thing seems like more of an attempt to pander to a particular constituent base than to effectively manage salvia use. Regulation perhaps, but an outright ban? It seems that politics has again influenced drug policy in ways that could harm otherwise law-abiding citizens and make the choice to use such a drug a more dangerous one. If you have been the victim of drug laws that waste our civil resources and clog our justice system, feel free to contact me at www.reddinandsinger.com.
States everywhere continue to modify their laws to allow for the use of marijuana for medical purposes. What about Wisconsin? Civilization doesn't seem to be crumbling in these other states. While we're at it, why not decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana for all of us? Prosecutors complain about not enough resources to charge all the cases that are brought to them. Maybe the answer is to stop bringing them cases that have no business in the criminal justice system. There is considerable disparity in the various Wisconsin counties regarding the prosecution of marijuana cases. Ozaukee County cops bring all marijuana cases into the DA's office because the county has no ordinances prohibiting possession. Just across the county line in Milwaukee County, MPD cops routinely dump small amounts of pot out and send people on their way rather than do the paperwork to even send them to municipal court. Let's end the injustice of uneven prosecution. Decriminalization-the time has come.