Dear Editor,

Lately, there have been a couple reports on the decisions of Patricia Hanson, Racine County District Attorney, regarding the sale of products containing CBD oil.  The comments of the Racine County District Attorney seem to be sparking debate regarding what the state of Wisconsin and Racine County can do, should do, or will do.  Interspersed within this debate are the obligatory anecdotal claims of the benefits of CBD oil, claims of scientific studies, why there are no conclusive studies, and what the law does and does not say.  Interestingly, there is one thing I see missing from consideration.

No one discusses how CBD could be illegal, to begin with.  This is not a simple debate over whether the substance can be used medicinally to treat different disorders from anxiety to autism to insomnia.  This is not a debate over whether there is enough hard, irrefutable proof that it is medically beneficial thereby justifying easing restrictions to access.  This is not a debate over how to best interpret the law to allow people to have the things they ‘need.’

The thing I love about this debate is the fringe groups: the potheads, the stoners (not the same thing), and the conspiracy theorists/cynics.  Each little group that has a vested interest in winning the debate, and yet skip over the most basic thing that really unites them all.

First, there are the potheads. I don’t mean the potheads such as would be portrayed by Sean Penn in ‘Fast Times at Ridgemont High.’ I mean potheads as in the people who claim that weed can cure everything from anxiety to halitosis and that no other medication is necessary.  Put down all those manufactured poisons, and take up the bong and the gummy bears.  If you ask them, it cures cancer, anxiety, eating disorders, arthritis, and maybe even foot fungus.  They claim there is a ‘study’ somewhere that proves it. If only weed could be tried freely, they could find a host of cures from one amazing little plant.  None of them seem to have a clue that the reason ANY medication of any type, natural or unnatural, is effective is because it is a poison that produces the desired effect.

Then there are the stoners.  These are the Sean Penn-flavor of pothead.  They are pretty much riding the coattails of the potheads because, as Peter Fonda eloquently said, “We want to be free… free to ride… and WE WANT TO GET LOADED.”  They have the ambition and the motivation to be a first-class pothead, but they are down to their last two brain cells, and one of those is really, really swollen.  They will spout off any information, factual or not, that rationalizes their freedom to roll a spliff, power down a few sliders, and coat every possession in patchouli oil.  They are ever faithful to their Lord and Savior… Seth Rogen.  It’s not like they are asking for coke, smack, and meth to be legal.

A usually sober and outwardly steady is a third companion, the conspiracy theorist/cynic.  These are the types that whip out buzzwords like ‘big pharma’ and could absolutely attest to the presence of the evil, lurking boogeyman embodied by pharmaceutical companies.  Everything they say is a tongue-in-cheek dig at the economic powerhouses that are controlling healthcare.  To them, we are rats pressing the lever for our morsel of food and if we could just break free from the clutches of Big Pharma, we could learn from the use of CBD oil (and weed)… but… by the time we learn, Big Pharma will be in control of it all with the aid of Monsanto and The Illuminati.

What all these groups have in common is a myopic view of freedom.  They all want to be free and have freedom. They don’t want to admit it, because it just doesn’t seem proper to want to get high, so they rationalize it with studies and statistics.  Personal liberty is not enough.  It is not enough to say “you don’t have a good reason to tell me ‘no’”.  The Cynics all want ‘Big Pharma’ to back off and let the weed industry grow, but they play the ‘Big Pharma’ game by trying to show medicinal value setting them up for the inevitable pimp-slap from industry experts who claim the proof just isn’t conclusive enough. Trying to overcome the boogeyman, the Potheads make outrageous claims about the benefits setting themselves up to bear the burden of proving the unprovable. Or, like the Stoners, they are just plain burnt and no one is taking them seriously at all.

What you crave is not weed or CBD oil. What you crave is freedom. Consumers can be protected from unregulated products just like they are protected from bathtub gin. Alcohol is a perfect benchmark of regulation. What consumers cannot be protected from, nor should they, is from themselves.

So when Patricia Hanson says that CBD oil products sold in the county can not have above a certain level of THC, the reply should not be to ask to have things clarified.  The response should be to say “who cares if it has THC in it as long as we as consumers are protected by being notified of what the content is.”  You are adults.  You can make decisions for yourself as long as the Patricia Hansons of the world ensure that those will be informed decisions.  If CBD oil doesn’t help your insomnia, is it hurting you?  If THC gets you high, but you feel better about your pains, isn’t that a good enough reason to consume it if you wish?  This is a debate over FREEDOM.

And for the record, I don’t consume any illicit drugs.  My drug of choice is CHOICE.

Ryan Hook
Caledonia Resident
1915 4 Mile Road

Editor’s note: This letter reflects the opinion of the author and not the Racine County Eye.

Denise Lockwood has an extensive background in traditional and non-traditional media. She has written for Patch.com, the Milwaukee Business Journal, Milwaukee Magazine and the Kenosha News.