This coming November, City of Racine residents will have the chance to vote in an advisory referendum on the question of whether marijuana should be legal for medicinal and/or recreational use, as well as what the potential revenue should be used for.
The County Board will be voting later this month about whether all county residents should have the chance to weigh in on these questions.
At the county committee meeting where the referendum was discussed, nearly 20 people spoke about the resolution. Among those was Caledonia resident Jen Simpkins, who told the story of her father using marijuana to help ease some major physical issues.
“Many people who are on heroin now started on the same (pharmaceutical) problems that my father was prescribed to deal with his pain,” Simpkins said. “And we’re losing those people.”
Simpkins said she has never used marijuana for any purpose, but understands how a change in Wisconsin laws could potentially affect other parts of the community.
Similarly at the city level, Karen Simpson of Racine told the City Council the story of her son, who she said is currently serving time for a drug charge. Simpson said her son has been diagnosed with attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder, or ADHD and bipolar disorder. Simpson said her son smoked cannabis to reduce the symptoms of those disorders.
At the same time, others spoke in opposition, citing cannabis and other drugs’ potential negative effects on productivity, mental health and in the workforce.
It is clear that the issue of marijuana use is a hot-button issue. It’s something many people will want to weigh in on.
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However, we question if November is the right time for this.
The same day an article first appeared in The Journal Times about aldermen proposing an advisory marijuana referendum, there was an article on another page about a marijuana referendum in Michigan that would likely boost Democratic election turnout.
It stated, “Having a cannabis-injected voter bump is an easy gift for Michigan Democrats, who by and large support legalizing marijuana.”
It later stated, “A Brookings Institute study found that 2012 proposals increased liberal and young voter turnout in Colorado and Washington.”
This November there will be a lot of people watching Wisconsin and Racine County, which is considered a battleground state and county.
Among the contentious races are those for governor, U.S. Senate and the 1st Congressional District, which includes Racine County.
Keeping in mind the fact that the marijuana referendums could sway the election, our main question is: Is this the right time? Would April be a better time?
The city aldermen have already made up their minds and the city’s referendum is set. But it’s a question County Board supervisors should weigh before they vote.