With current Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen choosing to not seek reelection after two four-year terms, Wisconsin voters will be choosing a new Attorney General Nov. 4.
Waukesha County District Attorney Brad Schimel, the Republican nominee will be facing Jefferson County DA Susan Happ, the winner of a three way primary in August.
Wisconsinites have long polled strongly in favor of legalizing medical cannabis, with results showing support around at least 75-80% or higher.
During the primary Happ told reporters she supported legalizing medical marijuana as long as it was tightly regulated. She said her father died of cancer and she would have done anything to relieve his suffering, but said she wouldn’t advocate for changing the law.
Schimel has actively opposed medical cannabis legislation in the state legislature. According to open records requests obtained by Madison NORML Examiner, Schimel unsuccessfully attempted to get the State District Attorney Association to oppose AB554/SB368, the Jacki Rickert Medical Marijuana Act (JRMMA), in late 2009 At the time Democrats controlled both houses and the governor’s office and the JRMMA had a lot of momentum and a combined senate-assembly committee public hearing was held that ran over 8 hours and was standing room only.
As to his current position, in a Sept. 17, 2014 report from WISN Milwaukee, “In His Own Words: Attorney General candidate Brad Schimel,” Schimel was asked, “Do you believe the state should legalize marijuana? Why or why not?”
Schimel’s response was:
“The state of Wisconsin should not legalize recreational use of marijuana. The marijuana being sold on the streets today is more potent than ever and its impairing effects are unpredictable and long lasting. Marijuana remains a “gateway drug” and according to the CDC, 1 in 6 who use marijuana will become addicted.”
Schimel has served as Waukesha County District Attorney since his election in 2006, when he ran to replace Paul Bucher, the arch-prohibitionist district attorney who made an unsuccessful attempt to win the GOP nomination versus Van Hollen that year.
Schimel’s office also figured in an Aug. 12, 2012 incident in which Town of Brookfield police were summoned to a Motel 6, on W. Bluemound Road, on Aug. 10, 2014, regarding a complaint over pot smoking in a room.
On Aug. 15, 2012, Brookfield Now, a Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel publication, ran an article, “California man avoids citation thanks to pot prescription.”
The article stated, “according to a police report of the incident:”
“The 26-year-old Dixon, Calif., man was found in possession of marijuana, but not cited, at Motel 6, 20300 W. Bluemound Road, at 1:16 p.m. Aug. 10.
Upon further investigation, police learned the man was legally able to smoke the marijuana for medical reasons.
Police consulted the Wisconsin Attorney General and Waukesha District Attorney offices before determining not to issue a citation.“
Madison NORML Examiner also obtained a copy of the police report and can confirm that medical cannabis was apparently not seized as well.
Below are excerpts from the police report prepared by Town of Brookfield Officer Hibler (Names redacted):
“I looked at the countertop surface in front of the television and saw two medium sized pieces of marijuana or ‘nugs.’ I took a step back and my attention was drawn to a small plastic baggie on the second shelf of the desk/countertop that contained approximately 20-25 grams of ‘nugs.'”
“At (the primary subject’s) request, I retrieved a piece of paper from his wallet and unfolded it. As I reviewed the document, I learned it was issued by a medical clinic in Sacramento CA and entitled (the primary subject) to be in possession of marijuana for medicinal reasons.
I placed a telephone (call) to Captain (Timothy R.) Imler. He conducted an internet search for the clinic that issued the document that I was reading to him. Captain Imler asked me to stand by while he placed a call to the district attorney’s office for their opinion on this matter.
Captain Imler called me back a few moments later and shared the information that he had just learned. The Wisconsin Attorney General’s Office had just published a ruling on this matter three days earlier stating that Wisconsin would honor the permit so long as the person was in possession of an amount that could reasonably be believed to be for personal use. I informed the Captain that this was the case.
Captain Imler instructed me to have both subjects released and asked that I counsel them on their actions and behavior for the duration of their stay.
I returned to (the men) and advised them they would not be cited or charged for possessing the marijuana. I did explained (sic) to them that smoking of any kinds (sic) is strictly prohibited at this or any hotel. I stressed that while (the man with the authorization) may possess the marijuana in accordance with his “doctor’s excuse” it was unlawful to ignite it in the room or anywhere outside the room or in a public place. I asked them if they understood and they both said they did.”
An open records request to Waukesha County DA Schimel in late 2012 seeking further information was met with a tersely worded response refusing to provide details.
“I am writing in response to your Public Records Request received by my office via email on December 24, 2012. I am declining to provide any documents for several reasons:
1. Pursuant to the decision of the Wisconsin Supreme Court in State ex rel. Richards v. Foust, 165 Wis. 2d 429 (1991), the prosecution files of the District Attorney’s Office are not subject to the Public Records Law;
2. Records of legal advice provided by the attorneys in my office to law enforcement officers are confidential communications that are not subject to inspection under the Public Records Law;
3. Even if I were required to provide the records you seek, there are no records retained by my office relative to the telephone conversation referenced in your letter;
4. Further, there are no records in the possession of my officer related to any medical marijuana authorizations, doctor notes or medical marijuana cards regarding the matter in question; if there were, those materials would likely be private medical records of the individual to whom the drug is prescribed, and they would not be subject to inspection under the Public Records Law;
5. My office is not the custodian of records for any opinions issued by the Wisconsin Attorney General; if you believe there are documents disseminated by the Attorney General which are subject to a Public Records request, you will need to submit your request to the Attorney General.
If you have any further questions or concerns, please submit them, and I will do my best to address them.
Very truly yours,
Brad Schimel District Attorney “
State Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen’s office also responded to open records requests denying issuing any “new ruling” and stating no one provided any information regarding a published opinion to Captain Imler, who they were unable to contact. (According to the Town of Brookfield’s Town Tidings, Winter 2012 edition, Capt. Imler resigned from the force Nov. 9, 2012 and at the time had 15 years of service and ranked right below the chief.)
I sent an email Dec. 21, 2012 to Wisconsin Dept. of Justice Spokesperson Dana Brueck, asking, “…when DOJ receives an inquiry seeking guidance from local law enforcement when they come into contact with individuals holding medical marijuana authorizations from states where it is legal under state law who are in possession of small amounts of marijuana, what is the response from DOJ?”
Brueck responded via an email on Sat, Dec 22, 2012 at 7:28 PM:
“Our Division of Law Enforcement Services would instruct law enforcement to arrest anyone possessing marijuana, as it is illegal in the State of Wisconsin, with or without a note from a doctor.”
There have been other cases where individuals with medical marijuana authorizations from other states have not been pursued, in Sauk County in 2004 in the case Wisconsin vs. Cheryl Lam, and in an Outagamie County case. Anecdotal reports of cases not being pursued due to notes from Wisconsin doctors have been reported. Advocates point to sections in Wisconsin statutes as creating a legal loophole for patients.
A recent case, also in Sauk County in Baraboo, has again raised these issues. The incident, on Sept. 13, 2014 at the Sauk County Fairgrounds during the Annual Fighting Bob Fest involved Wisconsin patients presenting both a Wisconsin doctor’s note and an Oregon medical cannabis card when a small amount of medicine was detected in the course of another matter (Baraboo News Republic, Sept. 19, 2014, “Pot case raises medical marijuana issues”).
So come Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014 – Election Day, Wisconsin voters will have a choice between a candidate, Susan Happ, who supports medical cannabis and said that her father died of cancer and she would have done anything to relieve his suffering, but that she would not advocate for it, and Brad Schimel, who not only strongly opposes medical cannabis but has worked tirelessly behind the scenes in his current position as Waukesha County district attorney to subvert and delay it at every opportunity.
Updated Sept. 23, 2014 at 9:30pm CDT.