Should Wisconsin Cave to Social Pressure and Legalize Marijuana?

Attorney Mark Powers can be reached at 262.549.5979.
Attorney Mark Powers can be reached at 262.549.5979.
Should Wisconsin follow in the footsteps of Colorado and Washington State and make it legal to use marijuana? There’s certainly no denying that public opinion nationwide is trending in favor legalizing pot.

According to a Pew Research Center survey released last April , for the first time in 44 years, most Americans support the legalization of marijuana. Fifty-two percent of 1,501 adults say that the use of marijuana should be legalized, compared to 45 percent who say that it should not -- an 11 percent increase since 2010. In 1969, a Gallup survey found that only 12 percent of Americans supported the legalization of marijuana, compared to a whopping 84 percent who were against it.

Still, in Wisconsin, I have not seen any legislation suggesting that marijuana should be legalized anytime soon. Certainly, I have had numerous clients come in and say, ‘Well, it’s legal in other states’ but the simple fact of the matter is that pot is not legal here.

Conversely, I’ve listened to prosecutors speak at seminars about the plague of different drugs that we have in our state.  While I have not seen scientific proof that marijuana is a gateway drug, people will always be debating whether pot use leads to using other types of drugs. 

However, we can say that the vast majority of the people we see using heavy drugs like heroin and cocaine also recreationally use marijuana.  The issue is that marijuana is part and parcel to the bigger picture of drug use in this state and across the country. It’s a commonly used controlled substance for those people who are involved in more serious activities.

Others who support legalization will argue that marijuana is really no worse than alcohol but what many people don’t realize is that pot poses different problems. If you drive a vehicle while using this type of controlled substance, Delta 9THC, you are now driving while impaired. The police don’t have to prove impairment. They just have to prove that you’ve been driving with that detectable amount of controlled substance.

In my view, this is a big problem. People are still driving with that in their system and, whether the driver is actually impaired, the very presence of this controlled substance is a problem. It is against the law and it is a problem in that regard, especially as it relates to driving.

In terms of social vices and what this drug does or doesn’t do to society, one could make the argument that alcohol also destroys lives.  Personally, I don’t see where Wisconsin needs to legalize this vice.  One could also argue that marijuana is a taxable commodity that could help alleviate some budgetary shortfalls as our economy continues to limp along.  However, Wisconsin’s laws against pot are firmly entrenched and I don’t see that changing any time soon.

Bottom line? It’s illegal to possess marijuana in Wisconsin. If you are determined to continue to use marijuana and want to avoid getting into trouble with the law, you will need to go to another state where those laws are relaxed.

About Attorney Mark Powers
Attorney Mark Powers is a partner at the criminal defense law firm of Huppertz & Powers, S.C. in Waukesha. Previously, Powers served as an Assistant District Attorney with the Waukesha County District Attorney's office and is currently serving as a municipal judge in North Prairie. He focuses in the area of criminal defense, and has handled many cases involving operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated, domestic disputes, and drug offenses.

Powers attended Valparaiso University School of Law, where he received his Juris Doctorate. Prior to law school, Mark attended the University of Wisconsin, Lacrosse where he received his bachelor of science in Political Science.

For more information, please call 262.549.5979 or visit www.waukeshacriminalattorneys.com.


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Mr Lundt January 22, 2014 at 12:11 PM
The reality is that the war on drugs has been as "successful" as prohibition. Certainly allowing a few other states to be our petri dish so we can see the actual impacts is part of what makes this country great.
Matt Gamble February 21, 2014 at 02:38 PM
This is going to be an interesting disscussion as time goes on. All drugs right down to Ibuprofen have harmful side affects. EVERYTHING has harmful side effects including jogging if you really think about it. As far as being a gateway drug......jury is definately still out on that one I think. I can tell you this, it's far less a gateway than Oxycontin and that is FDA approved and perscribed by the billions and no one seems to care. Your biggest lobbies against this will def be the drug companies and textile industry, but it will be an interesting debate. One thing I can say is Thank God for states rights. Now if we could opt out of some other national laws too that would be great!!
JRod February 21, 2014 at 11:14 PM
I don't smoke cigarettes or consume alcohol but I think mariguana should be legal. I totally disagree with states "opting out" of Federal laws. This can be the continuation of our country breaking up in pieces.
Mr Lundt February 22, 2014 at 11:06 AM
@jrod-- I totally disagree with states "opting out" of Federal laws. This can be the continuation of our country breaking up in pieces.--- You need a basic lesson on the constitution


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