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Ed Thompson’s 2002 Fight Against Marijuana Prohibition


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Reading a Wednesday article by Kyle Jaeger at Marijuana Moment, a quote from a Wisconsin state Assembly member who is a sponsor of a marijuana decriminalization bill struck me. Rep. David Crowley states at Twitter that the legislation “should have been passed years ago - but thanks to the inaction of our legislature, [Wisconsin] is now an island of antiquated drug policy in a sea of decriminalization."

The quote brought to mind the years 2001 and 2002 when I was in Wisconsin to help Ed Thompson with his governor campaign. Thompson, who ran as a Libertarian, made the legalization of medical marijuana a key campaign issue and supported recreational marijuana legalization as well.

A Rasmussen poll Thompson’s campaign commissioned found support for medical marijuana in the state was at 70 percent. However, to this day the state government has yet to allow the use of medical marijuana, much less adopt marijuana legalization generally.

Thompson, who had worked for a while in a Wisconsin state prison, would often talk on the campaign trail of his disgust at people who violated drug laws, including marijuana prohibition, being put in prison along with people who had committed violent crimes. He despised the entire drug war and proposed starting to dismantle it by taking on marijuana prohibition where public support could help him as governor overcome political inertia.

Thompson did not win that election, and sate marijuana law liberalization efforts in Wisconsin have had little success over much of the seventeen years since.

Then, last year, hemp, the low-THC cannabis Thompson championed the legalization of in his campaign, was legally harvested in Wisconsin for the first time in decades. Also, Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers, elected in November, is supporting significantly rolling back marijuana prohibition in the state, including via adopting medical marijuana legalization and marijuana decriminalization.

Hopefully, soon much more marijuana freedom will come to Wisconsin, and the state government will also chip away other parts of the drug war Thompson despised.
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