“With another record year of opioid overdose deaths, Wisconsin eyes fixes” (Wisconsin State Journal headline, 5/9/2018) So, Wisconsin still needs a “fix” after all these years?
Does the State Journal (and other papers) simply re-write press releases put out by the Governor’s office or does a reporter actually have an opportunity to ask challenging questions so a news article provides some facts which might be useful for a reader to put the Governor’s words in perspective?
Governor Walker is, ironically, quite proud of his “Fight” on this government induced “health emergency.” His office has published lists of numerous bills he has signed, executive orders issued, and cites millions of dollars spent. There is a campaign television ad focusing on how he has fought opioids coming to a station near you.
Keep in mind that, last year there was only a 7% increase in fatal opioid overdoses over 2016 in Wisconsin. Emergency room visits for suspected opioid overdoses increased by only 109%, the greatest rise among sixteen states closely tracked by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (Wisconsin is #1!) Undeterred, the Walker Administration prescribes more of the same; more laws, more bans, more record keeping, more prisoners, and more spending.
Unfortunately, simply banning or restricting opioid prescriptions has had some unintended negative outcomes, namely increased use of heroin or other drugs with uncertified purity and potency. The Journal of Internal Medicine published two studies that conclude that medical marijuana (or medical cannabis) laws have the potential to reduce opioid prescriptions.
“Reducing the supply of legal prescriptions for opioids is pushing people into black market heroin/fentanyl abuse,” pointed out Dr. Jeffrey A. Singer, a Phoenix surgeon and a senior fellow at the Cato Institute. “The number one cause of drug deaths is drug prohibition. We need to change our focus to harm reduction. We need to change from a war on drugs to a war on drug deaths.”
Even though legislation was introduced in 2017 to permit Wisconsin doctors to prescribe safe, non-addicting medical cannabis, the bills never got out of committees. Wisconsin is almost surrounded by states where patients can get safe medical cannabis. “Wisconsin is open for business;” the pharmaceutical business.
In comparison with Wisconsin, cannabis legalization in Colorado led to a “reversal” of opiate overdose deaths in that state, according to new research published in the American Journal of Public Health.
“After Colorado’s legalization of recreational cannabis sale and use, opioid-related deaths decreased more than 6% in the following 2 years,” wrote authors Melvin D. Livingston, Tracey E. Barnett, Chris Delcher and Alexander C. Wagenaar.
So, back to asking questions by journalists. Since the newsroom may not have thought of these, I offer them for consideration.
- Since medical cannabis is safer than opioids and legal for medical purposes in 29 states (including three states bordering Wisconsin) and the District of Columbia, why can’t Wisconsin patients get the same treatments here?
- What influence has $10 million of Big Pharma campaign money had on the Walker Administration’s positions?
- Is there any evidence that more laws, bans, restrictions and spending has reduced opioid abuse?
- If medical cannabis has the potential to reduce opioid use, why is Wisconsin fighting medical cannabis?
Wisconsin government please, "Forward" is in the other direction.
The Libertarian Party of Wisconsin Platform states:
Because only actions that infringe on the rights of others can properly be termed "crimes", we favor the repeal of federal, state, and local laws restricting our fundamental freedom to govern our own lives. In particular, we advocate:
The repeal of laws restricting the production, sale, possession, or use of prohibited drugs and medicines.
Not because the Party takes a position regarding personal decisions on medications, but because those decisions are of no concern of our state government.
Jim Maas, Chair
Marathon County Libertarian Party