In a recent interview with the Wisconsin State Journal, Madison, WI Police Chief Mike Koval called the War on Drugs an “abject failure” and endorsed the legalization of marijuana for recreational use. He bolstered his argument by pointing out the fact that the city’s African American population is being cited or arrested for marijuana offences at twelve times the rate of Caucasians, parroting the concerns of national figures like US senators Rand Paul and Cory Booker, who have been pushing for criminal justice reform in the wake of the drug war’s disproportionate application on the basis of race. Chief Koval said that he believes that taxes taken from marijuana sales should be used to fund drug treatment programs and drug courts to help addicts beat hard narcotics like heroin without facing incarceration.
Chief Koval told the Wisconsin State Journal, “We’ve done such an abysmal job using marijuana as a centerpiece of drug enforcement that it’s time to reorder and triage the necessities of what’s more important now.” He pointed to states like Washington and Colorado where marijuana has been legalized for recreational use as examples of what could be done in Wisconsin.
In Wisconsin, marijuana remains totally illegal, and the state’s marijuana legalization initiatives have gained little political traction so far. Wisconsin did recently pass a bill that allows patients suffering from seizure disorders to possess non-psychoactive cannabidiol without facing criminal penalties, though critics have called the bill legally unworkable due to the fact that it does not provide a way for patients to get their medication legally. On Mother’s Day of this year, 7-year-old Lydia Schaeffer, whose mother lobbied heavily for the cannabidiol legalization bill, passed away from the seizure-causing Kleefstra syndrome while waiting for the bill to be implemented. The state has yet to pass a bill legalizing marijuana for broader medical use, though Wisconsin State Representative Melissa Sargent (D-Madison) introduced legislation to legalize marijuana for medical and recreational purposes earlier this year, so the possibility remains on the horizon.
Madison Police Chief Koval made news earlier this summer when he commented on the clashes between police and protesters in Ferguson, MO. In an interview with WISC-TV News 3, seen below, Koval described his strategy for dealing with protests, which differs starkly from what was seen in Ferguson. Said Koval, “You don’t show up in hard gear with riot gear and a facial visor. You show up in soft gear. That way, I think you take the anonymity away from the crowd. You develop yourself as a relational person to the crowd, and in that sense, you’re less likely to see these things go more viral in terms of the proclivity to violence.”
In related news, Ben Swann just released a new Truth in Media episode, which can be seen in the player below, exposing the truth about politicians’ mixed messages on medical cannabis. The episode, which primarily concerns the fact that the government denies the efficacy of cannabis as medicine while owning the patent on medical cannabis, features discussion on how some state governments like Wisconsin are legalizing cannabidiol but not legalizing other psychoactive forms of medical cannabis, thus under-serving sick patients who need treatment.