Kim on the issues

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Kim Butler wants to legalize medical marijuana and hemp production & processing. Let’s move towards decriminalization & legalizing adult recreational use.


What would you do about judicial reform? Would you decriminalize marijuana and regulate hemp?

Kim Butler, Democratic candidate

Our Constitution set up a balance between the judiciary, the legislative and the executive branches of government. The legislature makes laws and the courts apply, or uphold those laws. The judiciary should be fair and impartial, the court should rise above the political fray, and issue rulings based solely on the law, in keeping with their code of ethics. Some states have seen battles between the courts and the legislature. Our April 3 Supreme Court election, while technically nonpartisan, was highly politicized.

In every judicial election, are we always voting for the best qualified judge, or the the one with the glitzy campaign, or the R or D after their name? Should public opinion influence judicial choice, or should a judge’s ability to uphold the law, while unpopular, be more important? It’s hard to obtain accurate information about political candidates in this area. Researching judges is a lot to expect from your average citizen, which perhaps is why turnout for these elections is low. It might be time to explore the idea of nonpartisan boards appointing judges rather than us electing them. I must stress that I don’t think judges should be political appointments, but rather a mixed board of legal experts that looks at judges’ qualifications and merit.

Judicial reform might also include criminal justice reform - making sure that our laws are applied justly and similarly to all offenders. Blacks and other persons of color are incarcerated at much higher rates than white people, and are given much stricter sentences. Violence-against-women crimes like sexual assault and domestic violence are not treated consistently by judges, with some giving lenient sentences for serious crimes. Juvenile justice is another area where sometimes the color of a person’s skin factors into their treatment, and it shouldn’t. As a legislator, I will work to strengthen the fairness and impartiality of our system.


In 2017, my teens and I visited colleges in the Pacific Northwest. I kept marveling at the employees standing on street corners with signs reading “Pre Rolled Joints” similar to the signs we see here advertising “$5 Pizzas.” There has been a huge shift in attitudes toward cannabis in my lifetime. According to a recent Pew Research study, 61 percent of Americans support legalizing cannabis. Nine states legalized it, and 30 states authorized medical marijuana programs. I’d like Wisconsin to be the 31st state to legalize medical marijuana. In addition to providing relief for patients with a variety of conditions, it might also help with our opioid addiction problem, allowing people to medicate with a much safer, less addictive substance.

Cannabidiol, or CBD, lotion, oil or drops may have many positive health effects for people, while not giving them the “high” that comes from smoking cannabis. CBD oil comes from hemp, a relative of marijuana, which is legal to grow in pilot programs in Wisconsin, and could be a revenue generator for Wisconsin. I favor expanding the cultivation, processing and sale of hemp and hemp products. The local St. Croix Tribe is looking at processing hemp into CBD oil, but has encountered some roadblocks. Because cannabis is considered a Schedule 1 controlled substance, and hemp is closely related, laws are complex and convoluted. Similarly, the process of legalizing cannabis is not a simple one.

After we legalize medical marijuana, the next step would be to decriminalize possession. I would be supportive of a referendum or ballot initiative on legalizing and licensing the sale of cannabis in Wisconsin, which would make the product and the sale of it more safe, and bring added revenue to the state. We must carefully study what has worked in other states to craft model legislation in Wisconsin. There are many things to work out such as laws for “driving while buzzed,” rethinking drug testing for employees, navigating the banking laws, and prior sentencing. I think this journey is inevitable, with public opinion changing quickly. The positives outweigh the negatives and if we proceed carefully, it can be a win-win situation for our state.

Read the full article in the Inter-County Leader here, in pdf, scroll down to page 7.

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