The “gateway theory” has been with us for about as long as the War on Drugs. Despite it being debunked over and over and over again, politicians and reefer madness acolytes just love evoking the nonsensical theory whenever they get boxed in a corner.
Earlier this year, even the Drug Enforcement Administration removed from its website a report making the false claim that cannabis is a gateway drug. Unfortunately, many politicians are not keeping up with the times.
But the latest gateway theory claim is a real doozy. Republican Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker on Tuesday went to Cadott High School and said this about industrial hemp legislation:
“It’s early in the process and it’s certainly something we’ll look at. Overall, looking at this I have a concern in anything that would lead to legalization, mainly because as we fight opioid and heroin abuse across the state, one of the things I hear for public health and law enforcement and others is anything that’s a gateway into some of these other areas is a big, big concern. We hear it from small towns to big cities and everywhere in between.”
This may be the biggest overreach since Ronald Reagan declared in 1980:
“Marijuana, pot, grass, whatever you want to call it is probably the most dangerous drug in the United States.”
Walker is either ignorant on the facts of industrial hemp or trying to scare high school children. Either way, his statement is, on its face, more absurd than Reagan’s.
Industrial hemp is not a psychoactive substance. It is an industrial crop used for clothing, construction materials, biofuels, bird seed, and roughly 25,000 products. The one thing hemp can’t do is get you high. The mere fact that Walker could somehow make the vaguest claim about hemp and the gateway theory demonstrates how little homework he has done on the topic.
Walker’s ludicrous statement was made in response to a bill, introduced by Republicans, that would allow Wisconsin farmers to grow hemp. The authors of the bill have gone out of their way to stress the fact they are talking about hemp and not psychoactive cannabis.
“Several decades ago our state was one of the top hemp producers in the nation,” State Senator Patrick Testin, co-author of the bill, told WEAU 13 News. “Unfortunately, for nearly 60 years, farmers have been prohibited from growing the safe, useful, and non psychoactive crop because of its relation to marijuana,” he said.
“We hope that this hearing will clarify any misconceptions associated with hemp and demonstrate the opportunities that this crop could make available,” Testin added. This clarification apparently went over Walker’s head.
Despite Walker’s out-of-left-field concerns, the bill has received support from the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation and the Wisconsin Farmers Union. During World War II, Wisconsin harvested nearly 75 percent of all U.S. hemp.