In 2017 -- the most recent year with available data -- there were 916 opioid-related overdose deaths in Wisconsin. In 2016, Wisconsin saw 865 opioid-related overdose deaths.
Most adults in Wisconsin have heard about the opioid epidemic that's gripping the United States. Over-prescription of painkillers, ease of access and high potential for addiction are just some of the contributing factors.
The opioid epidemic in the United States is a known crisis. Perhaps you've experienced addiction firsthand, or know someone who has. If so, you're not alone. Opioid use has skyrocketed in Wisconsin and is now a leading cause of death in the state, surpassing car crashes, suicide and breast cancer.
At a time when many states are legalizing marijuana or adopting laws that are more lenient when it comes to marijuana-related drug offenses, Wisconsin continues to enforce harsh laws and penalties around marijuana.
Opioid abuse has been declared a public health crisis in Wisconsin, and the reality is that anyone can develop a problem with opioids. Addiction affects people from all walks of life, and courts are gradually coming to realize that they can't simply incarcerate the problem away.
There continues to be a lot of confusion about marijuana laws on the local, state and federal levels.
Since the governor signed a bill in April, use of cannabis oil to treat seizures is now legal in Wisconsin. However, possessing other forms of marijuana remains illegal at the state level, and people arrested for marijuana possession can face serious consequences, including jail time, fines and a criminal record.
"We're not criminals. We no longer want to live in the shadows of society."
Many people are under the impression that possessing a small amount of marijuana is no longer a crime in Wisconsin. But in reality, it's easy to run afoul of Wisconsin's marijuana laws, and what you don't know can hurt you.
Cities across Wisconsin, including Waukesha and Milwaukee, have adopted municipal ordinances that decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana. Those cities still impose fines for simple possession, however, with the amount of the fine varying from city to city.