Opioids crisis in Wisconsin can be fixed

JOSEPH CANNING | canni001@raangers.uwp.edu

On February 8th, 2017, the Wisconsin state senate approved a bill in a 31-1 vote that, if passed by the state assembly, would allow for the legal possession of the marijuana extract cannabidiol or CBD in Wisconsin. CBD is a medicinally valuable oil that was singled out for legalization by Wisconsin senate Republicans due to recent evidence that it can be used as a treatment for victims of epilepsy.

Not far enough

The other reason CBD was specifically chosen for legalization was because it lacks the chemical THC that is responsible for producing a high in marijuana users; however, Wisconsin Republicans are misguided in their decision to dismiss the value of psychoactive marijuana to the state’s citizens. Legal—THC containing—medical marijuana is exactly what Wisconsin needs to stem the tragic wave of opioid overdoses that has inflated to result in 10.7 deaths per 100,000 residents in 2015 from the 5.9 per 100,000 in 2006 with no sign of relent.

Two days prior to the CBD bill being passed, Wisconsin state Sen. Jon Erpenbach and state Rep. Chris Taylor, both Democrats, encouraged a state referendum on the legalization of medical marijuana; they cited the legal status of the drug in 28 states and the District of Columbia, while pushing marijuana as a proven, safe alternative drug for the thousands of citizens who end up on opioids each year and too often become dependant on heroin, fentanyl or painkillers.

A better drug

All of the opioids mentioned above are incredibly addictive and easily toxic substances that are readily available. Fentanyl—a drug that gained much infamy after the beloved popstar Prince became one of its victims in early 2016—is perfectly legal in the United States, despite its killer potency. It is a farce that marijuana remains a schedule 1 drug even with being magnitudes safer than opioid drugs.

A 2014 study headed by Marcus A. Buchhuber of the Philadelphia Veterans Affairs Medical Center, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that deaths by opioid overdose fell by an average of nearly a quarter in states that legalized marijuana for medical use. Furthermore, a 2016 study by the University of Michigan found that patients involved in their study reported that the usage of prescription painkillers dropped by 64 percent after having used marijuana to treat their pain.

Time for action

The evidence accrued over the last few years shows, time and time again, that marijuana is a more than apt substitute for opioid pain medications and a legal alternative to dangerous, illegal opioids such as heroin. If marijuana saved lives in the 28 states where it has been implemented and shown to be an effective replacement, it is time Wisconsin joined its neighbors and legalized marijuana for medical use.

Legal CBD, then, is poised to be a landmark—if only tentative—step towards medical marijuana. Safe pain medication should be a priority for all Wisconsinites, young or old; chances are, if you aren’t taking some sort of opioid pain medication, you know someone who is or was taking one. If you care about alternatives to harmful medication, call or email Wisconsin state legislators and let them know that Wisconsin needs medical marijuana.

 

Question of the Issue: Student opinions  

Q: What are your expectations regarding Trump’s presidency and his future goals?

ETHAN COSTELLO | coste012@rangers.uwp.edu

Eunique Davis | Human Resource Management Major

A: “I don’t have very many expectations. I would expect maybe not as many of those outrageous ideas we’ve heard about. I’d expect those to not happen. I think it’s kind of up in the air, ‘cause everything we’ve heard was kind of dramatic and a little too extreme, so whatever is going to be accomplished is going to be right sided, definitely. But I’m thinking more middle-right than absolute right.”

Gadeer Ahmad | Communication and Criminal Justice Major

gadeer_ahmad
Gadeer Ahmad

A: “I strongly believe that absolutely nothing is going to be accomplished when it comes down to Trump building a wall, deporting all immigrants, and doing everything that he set for. I think that the people in America are going to become more racist than they already are. There’s going to be a lot more violence and a lot more police brutality, especially that he wants stop-and-frisk; he wants to bring it back. And he wants to make gay marriage illegal again.

The day after the election, after Trump was elected President of the United States, going out in public was probably the hardest, most awkward thing I’ve ever done in my whole entire life. So many other people had the same exact experience as I did. I spoke to Mexicans, I spoke to gays, I spoke to blacks, I spoke to other Muslims: they’ve had the same exact experience. They’ve never been more afraid for their lives.”

florencio_garcia
Florencio Garcia

Florencio Garcia | Criminal Justice and Sociology Major

A: “I just feel like he’s not an experienced politician, so he’s not going to know his way around the system. So I feel like, all issues set aside, is he really going to be able to accomplish anything? Whether it’s the controversial issues that are going around now, is he really going to be able to get his way around Congress and the Senate just for the fact that he doesn’t have any experience being a politician?

Barry Gibson | Communication Major

barry_gibson
Barry Gibson

A: “Of all the stuff I remember as a young man…everybody [was] fighting for civil rights, regardless of color, but especially because of the color of black people in general, fighting for what they thought was just basic rights. And here we are today, 2016, and all that was for naught. It’s just disheartening, man. Earlier today, in one of my comm[unication] classes, two young ladies, one Caucasian, one a blended baby, just lost it. Emotion just ran wild… A friend of mine who’s Muslim just showed me on Facebook, which I deliberately stayed away from, a black guy in Racine came out to his car and it said ‘Go home negro’, if you get my meaning. This is ridiculous. This is not why I put the uniform on. It’s not why I sat in fox holes for two or three years. It’s not why we have men and women going overseas right now trying to give someone else freedom, but yet we’re not even free here in this country, regardless of color, but especially because of color. It’s ridiculous.”

kyriin_richmond
Kyriin Richmond

Kyriin Richmond | Graphic Design Major

A: “Quite honestly, what I expect of this presidency is not a whole lot; really we’re just moving backwards with our whole country. This is just a thousand steps backwards, especially when we voted for someone who consistently quotes hate. There’s already violence all across the United States now. There’s a bunch of protests. This isn’t a step forward, this is a million steps back. We’re not improving the country with this election. There’s nothing fixed. This is a disaster.”

Tim Krueger | Communication Major

tim_krueger
Tim Krueger

A: “My expectations with the new presidency is that obviously Donald Trump is going to do his best job in his wheelhouse, which is business. So hopefully, fiscally, it’s going to be a good four years. I’m not too sure about his foreign affairs. I guess we’ll see. There’s not much to say. It was a fair election. America voted, and it was very split-down-the-middle. I’m expecting a very divided America for the next couple years. I don’t see Trump getting a second term, but who knows? We’ll just hold on to how it goes. Hopefully he’ll keep true to his word and get us out of some of the debt. I haven’t taken much of a look at his plan for that, but from what I heard, I heard it’s decent. Less debt, that’s what I’m hoping.”

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Josh Koepke

Josh Koepke | Applied Health Science Major

A: “At this point, there is nothing we can do to reverse the results. Hillary conceded and the election is over. Now it is up to us to unite together and trust in our newly elected officials. To all the unsatisfied individuals: protests won’t change the outcome, but voting does. Midterm elections are just as important as presidential elections.”

Melissa Miller | Music Major

A: “I’ve heard what our new president’s plans are and what he hopes to accomplish, and I hope we can continue to progress and not take ten steps backwards. But in this current situation, I’m uncertain that’s a possibility.”

Corey Hoskins | Communication Major

corey_hoskins
Corey Hoskins

A: “To be honest, I’m not setting too many expectations right now because expectations do create unnecessary emotions. So right now, I’m just looking at what’s gonna go on within the black communities starting off. But as I say, we’ll see how these four years go. Let’s just see if he can stand up to what he’s doing. I’m not trying to say anything positive nor negative. I’m neutral. Let’s just see what happens.”

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Bianca Ruffolo

Bianca Ruffolo | Molecular Biology and Bioinformatics Major

A: “Honestly, I think it’s going to be an overhaul of what the administration before did, and I am honestly not looking forward to it, at all.”

Monica Beaujon | English Major

A: “I always saw him as very unpredictable because in the debates, he would change his opinion in the middle of his sentence, and you don’t really know what he thinks about certain issues because he’s always changing his mind. I don’t know if it’s just an act and maybe he’ll figure things out when he’s elected, but I’m not really sure what to expect from him. I just think he’s a wildcard. He always says we need to ‘Make America Great Again’, but I don’t know what that means.”

PHOTO CREDIT: ETHAN COSTELLO

Would safe spaces actually be safe?

TARA LAWSON

Student Submission

With the recent debates on UW campuses between implementing “safe spaces” for free speech, it is important to see if these safe spaces would be beneficial or cause more harm.

On one hand, I agree with the demands requested from the United Council to the UW Board of Regents including creating racial awareness within the system, updating plans for diversity change, creating a task force to monitor the experiences of minority students in school, and increasing funding to bring mental health professionals into the school, which are outlined in The Ranger News article, “Free Speech vs. Safe Spaces.” 

However, I do not think creating safe spaces on college campuses is going to accomplish any of these demands.

In my mind, it would be too difficult to enforce the idea of a safe space and have someone policing these areas.

Who would designate where these safe spaces are located? Who would determine what can and cannot be said in these spaces? Is this space only for minority students? Who would be in charge of monitoring actions in these safe spaces?

 There are too many unanswered questions from the #Blackout side in terms of the logistics of the safe spaces. They have the right idea in asking for a place to speak without fear of demeaning or discriminatory speech, but if I were on the Board of Regents, I would not choose implementing safe spaces as a resolution.

Instead, I would focus on educating the student body on diversity in relation to their campus environment. During a student’s first semester at a UW school, I would require them to take a diversity class in order to create an open academic debate on the topic.

By learning about other racial groups when a student first steps on campus, I believe this would help eliminate the need for safe spaces. 

Students should have a space where they can feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and opinions on any topic, including racial diversity, and I think the classroom would be the best place for this and not a designated area on campus.

If the board decided to implement safe spaces on UW campuses, would that prevent demeaning speech or making it easier for students to discriminate against one another?

There is the potential for some students to dislike the safe spaces, thus standing right outside of the “safe space” and spewing derogatory comments into the area.

Does the idea of a safe space only apply into the designated location? If so, I do not see how that is helping anyone who is feeling discriminated against. I see it giving people an even easier opportunity to harm others with their hateful speech.

 

Student voices – 100 words (more or less)

Free speech vs. safe space is a controversy through out the UW system colleges. In my opinion there is no real solution of solving the problem with hate speech occurring all around the world, let alone on campuses. By creating these safe spaces for students to go in order to “get away” from hate speech and feel safe, it is creating division between race, ethnicity, sex, or whatever the hate speech is about. Is the main goal not to create a more diverse yet unified community? By creating these safe spaces for students, they are running away from their problems and showing the offender they win. – DANA DROZEK

I believe the UW System regents should not rescind their statement in support of free speech. By rescinding their statement, the UW System regents would be showing a sign of weakness. It would set an example that they are incapable of making decisions without second guessing themselves. Freedom of speech peaks good academic debates bringing on new ideas and thoughts to campus. It is one’s legal right to freedom of speech in the First Amendment stating, “United States citizens have freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly, and petition”. It is not the regent’s place to say what can be said and where it can be said. Who gets the power to dictate what is and is not hate speech? – MIKAYLA PROTT

If you haven’t heard, lately there has been a huge debate at The University of Wisconsin between the students on campus and the board of regents. The students protested that they wanted safe spaces on campus away from hate speech and racist comments. The board of regents chose to pass a resolution defending free speech on campus. Now I know that there are probably several different opinions on this topic, and most opinions are valid. In my opinion, the board of regents did the right thing by defending freedom of speech. People who attend universities should be mature enough and smart enough to not take things said on campus or in classes offensively. On the other end of that, students should also be mature enough to speak in a way that is socially acceptable and refrain from using slang or derogatory terms. Safe spaces should not be necessary on University Campuses. – MADDIE JOHNSTON

 

TRN welcomes submissions from the UW-Parkside community of 100 words (more or less), as well as longer columns. Submissions but we will not edit content, other than deletions for space consideration or grammar, if time permits. The full text of print opinions appears on our website. If you would like your email to run with your opinion, let us know.

Ranger News coverage informative but scattered

TRICIA MILLER

Student Submission

While reading the “Free Speech vs. Safe Spaces” article in the February 11th, 2016 issue of The Ranger News I found it to be very informational.

I really liked that the article mentioned the five demands for the people involved in this issue. It gave readers a good idea as to what exact ideas the student’s in the system are looking for in our campuses.

As a student, I agree on the ideas and demands but I never knew this was a huge issue on our campuses. I feel that our campus, UW-Parkside, does a good job of keeping the college diverse and fair between ethnicities.

The article stated in the demands for the people to “create a task force to monitor the experiences of minority students in schools.”

I remember taking a survey either last semester or last year (2015) about how I felt on campus; referring to safety and my comfort level. I am almost positive that most of the student body had to take this survey. The survey was a good idea to get a general idea on what the campus needs to keep up and work on.

I did, however, found the article sort of jumping around on information about the topic, or didn’t have a good flow. I found myself looking back on the beginning of the article to remind myself about an idea.

For myself, a person who does know the background on the topic, to have to look back on information makes me wonder about a reader who didn’t know any background if they would fully grasp what was happening on UW campuses.

For example, the background of the issue was stated in the middle of the article, where I think it should have been at the beginning to inform people who are new to the topic or refresh a person who is familiar.

Some sentences were also randomly placed, at least I feel. I am no English minor, believe me, but I thought I would share my struggle with the writers as it may help in future papers.

All in all, I think this article was, again, very informing to me and also any other students who may read it. This topic should interest all of us students as it may affect us or our classmates. I will continually be interested in the topic so I do recommend keeping the Parkside students up to date on the topic as it progresses.