By Mary Freeman
Jonathan Brostoff, 19th Assembly District State Representative, is a forward-thinking leader regarding Cannabis Legalization. Brostoff represents the Eastside, Bayview and part of Riverwest. He is a Milwaukee High School of the Arts and UWM graduate, and has been advocating for people in Milwaukee since he was a teen. Outside of his professional responsibilities, he has volunteered and fundraised for Pathfinders, Casa Maria and is passionate about criminal justice and mental health reform issues.
We sat down and talked about the most important social justice and economic issue of our time: Full Legalization of the Cannabis Plant.
Mary: As the public speaker at the 7th annual Marijuana March on May 6th in Riverwest, you said, “This issue is about personal freedom, privacy and our ability as adults to make choices. We are living in unreasonable times and people need to get active.” What do you mean by that?
Jonathan: The first thing people need to do is make Full Legalization an issue. Everybody has a responsibility to do so, and until people do, you’re not going to see any movement. The Marijuana March on May 6 is a perfect example. There’s one annual March a year and 100 people show up. There should have been 10 times as many people there and marches like that should be going on every month. People could be advocating on the criminal justice side. For others, maybe it’s a health issue. For some people, maybe they don’t want government that active in their own personal freedom and choices. Basically, it’s about everyone stepping up their level of activity and getting involved. If you do that, it will get done.
Mary: The 8 other states that have fully legalize Cannabis were able to do so because it was put on a referendum ballot and voted. We don’t have that option. How do we change the law in Wisconsin?
Jonathan: Like I said, if enough people, say 50 people a week, started calling and writing every legislator, you’d start seeing movement on legalization. But now, nobody hears anything about it. My colleagues get random emails or phone calls, but that’s it. I should be getting a lot of emails because everybody knows I am for Full Legalization. But even I am not hearing anything, and I am representing a district where I should be.
Mary: Colorado made over $200 million in taxes in recreational use alone in 2016, which equates to over a billion in profit. As our leader who understands our financial crisis in education, healthcare and transportation in Milwaukee, what is your responsibility to inform the people this is an issue they should be passionate about?
Jonathan: Instead of looking at the minority population and suggesting they champion this, it needs to be an organic movement across the state, to make politicians make this a priority, especially those running for office in 2018.
Mary: Governor Walker promised the people hundreds of thousands of jobs as well as economic prosperity. Full Legalization of Cannabis would guarantee both. Why isn’t he making this an issue to fulfill his promise?
Jonathan: The real question is why would he support it considering the lack of support and activism we’ve seen on legalization throughout the state? Walker is not going to care about this because he has a moral epiphany. He thinks it is politically more beneficial to ignore the issue, then to support it. We’ve had Democratic governors and they haven’t legalized Marijuana. So make it an issue and make it an organized, coordinated state wide grass root effort.
Mary: If Wisconsinites eventually decide to medicalize marijuana, it will put all the profits into the hands of the 1% who control everything already and do nothing for the people who have suffered most since Cannabis prohibition. Your thoughts?
Jonathan: The Power is in the people. So, the more people that organize for Full Legalization, the more Power they will have.
Mary: People think because medical Marijuana has come first in all the states where it is fully legal, it has to be legalized that way. Should Wisconsinites be the first State in the Nation to bypass medicinal Marijuana and Fully Legalize Cannabis for adult use?
Jonathan: I personally don’t smoke weed. I have never smoked it. I don’t drink either. I never did. But in my opinion, Full Legalization is the answer and I would do it tomorrow if I could.
Mary Freeman President, ShopBranch8: Inventors of the Yoga Suit President, Cream City Enterprises, Producers of the film, ZORBA THE BUDDHA Founder, Milwaukee Yoga Movement