Staff and students discuss legalization of marijuana

Amber Brockman, Assistant News Editor

Several UW Oshkosh students and a professor said they believe marijuana should be legalized in Wisconsin.

UWO junior Jordan Evenson said he believes marijuana should be legalized and regulated similarly to alcohol.

“I think legalizing is a good idea as long as age is involved and I think it should be set at 21, the same as alcohol,” Evenson said. “You see all these other states that are converting over and it’s helping with profit and keeping people out of jail. You know, marijuana isn’t doing any harm to people.”

UWO freshman Ryan Pawlak said he thinks marijuana should be legalized as long as it is used safely.

“It would be beneficial for medical reasons, like people dealing with physical pain or depression,” he said. “But it could be dangerous with misuse while driving.”

UWO senior Amanda Reyes said she thinks marijuana legalization is inevitable.

“It is legal in Madison, so it’s bound to happen statewide eventually,” Reyes said. Dane County, where Madison is located, has decriminalized small amounts of marijuana.

UWO Associate Professor of Political Science Jerry Thomas said medical marijuana should be legal in Wisconsin since it is legal in surrounding states, which means drugs are flowing into Wisconsin across state lines.

“If Wisconsin legalizes it, it can reduce the instances of illegal drug trafficking across state lines,” Thomas said. “Also, Wisconsin can tax the sales if legal, which means that the state can keep the revenue that is currently going to other states.”

Thomas said legalization in Wisconsin could bring other benefits.

“The main benefit is that it allows the state to regulate the drug, which will give users better knowledge of the contents of the drugs they consume,” Thomas said. “Otherwise, Wisconsinites are left to getting street drugs that may have impurities or other health risks such as the recent health issues connected with vaping.”

Thomas thinks some people don’t approve of legalizing marijuana because it has been regarded as a moral issue among opponents of legalization.

“Wisconsin is one of the few remaining states where marijuana use remains fully illegal, including for medical purposes,” Thomas said. “I would have thought Wisconsin would have been on the leading edge of legalization.”

UWO sophomore Amber Vanlandghen said she thinks people against legalization are afraid of change.

“Just because it’s been illegal, like forever, people are just going to be really against it in the beginning but I feel like they’ll get used to it,” Vanlandghen said.

UWO senior Gage Kamp said legalizing marijuana would give people with health problems another option for treatment.

“Personally, my grandfather has some health concerns and it could be something that would maybe help him because they are starting to run out of options for him,” Kamp said.

Vanlandghen said she has seen the benefits of marijuana firsthand when an acquaintance used it to cope with pain.

“It’s a depressant, so it’s going to help you take away your pain and I think that’s really important, especially for people who have chronic conditions,” Vanlandghen said.

Reyes said marijuana would be a safer option than other medications.

“There is kind of an opioid problem in some parts of Wisconsin, especially in the more rural areas and I think they get addicted to painkillers really fast,” Reyes said. “Also, we have a lot of veterans who get addicted to painkillers as well and I think marijuana is a better alternative than just taking pharmaceutical drugs for mental or physical problems.”

UWO senior Jessica Bock said it’s time for Wisconsin to legalize marijuana.

“It’s been proven that there are so many benefits and not many side effects from what they know so far,” Bock said. “For recreational use, it might help people who are stuck on harder drugs, since weed isn’t something you can overdose on, but getting people over to that would be way better than alcohol or other drugs that are legal right now.””