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Medical Marijuana: Wisconsin Bill Gets Public Hearing

A Wisconsin bill that would allow seriously ill patients to grow up to 12 marijuana plants or purchase up to three ounces of marijuana from nonprofit dispensaries got a public hearing Tuesday. The bill, AB 554 (and its companion SB 368) was introduced a little more than a month ago, but after a decade of preparation and statehouse hall-walking by the state patients' group Is My Medicine Legal Yet? (IMMLY), it is moving fast. Tuesday's hearing was a joint hearing of the Assembly and Senate Health Committees.

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Wisconsin's Jacki Rickert and Gary Storck, with New Jersey's Jim and the late Cheryl Miller (photo courtesy immly.org)
IMMLY's Jacki Rickert, of Mondovi, who suffers from a connective tissue disorder, has long been a poster child for Wisconsin medical marijuana patients. On Tuesday, she urged lawmakers to make her medicine legal, saying it allowed her to reduce her consumption of morphine for pain.

"When your doctor looks at you and says, 'If we cannot get weight on you, you will die' - that's what it comes down to, 'You will die' -- you do whatever you have to do," Rickert, 58, told the lawmakers. "We've never wanted to break the law, but sometimes you have to."

Both houses of the Wisconsin legislature are controlled by Democrats, but that didn't stop Republican skeptics from blasting away. Republican Attorney General JB Van Hollen played the "but it's a federal crime" card.

"Make no mistake, the marijuana possession permitted by the bill to a user or caregiver is illegal under federal law, with penalties of up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000," Van Hollen said in written testimony -- completely ignoring the Obama administration's vow to not prosecute people using medical marijuana in compliance with state law.

Such a law would also make it more difficult to prosecute marijuana cases in state court, Van Hollen complained. People could claim they had a medical condition, even if they were not on the state registry, he said. "If the bills are enacted as drafted, law enforcement's and prosecutors' ability to enforce what would still be illegal is seriously disabled," he warned.

Rep. Pat Strachota (R-West Bend) argued that the bill was too broadly written, citing a Department of Health Services estimate that 2.5 million Wisconsinites have medical conditions that would qualify them to use medical marijuana. The agency estimated that only a fraction of that number -- from 1,700 to 17,000 people -- would actually register as medical marijuana patients.

But that didn't stop Strachota. "That is not really a narrow scope on this bill if half the citizens of the state would qualify to use medical marijuana," he said.

But proponents of the bill argued that it was tightly crafted to avoid the kind of loopholes that have turned California into a medical marijuana Wild West. The bill is the "most comprehensive and responsible legislation in the country," said Daniel Abrahamson, director of legal affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance Network, the lobbying arm of the Drug Policy Alliance.

Rep. Leah Vukmir (R-Wauwatosa) attacked the motives of advocates, claiming supporters were cynically using critically ill patients as a "façade" for legalization. "It's nothing more than a ruse for you to move forward for full legalization of marijuana," Vukmir said, drawing loud boos from the hearing audience.

Vukmir's comments also stirred Senate bill sponsor Sen. Joe Erpenbach (D-Waunakee) to insist that he was not trying to legalize marijuana for recreational use. "People shouldn't have to break the law to get pot for their mom or dad or son. Republicans and Democrats are doing that right now -- in your district, right in your backyard," Erpenbach told Vukmir.

Despite the Republican attacks, supporters of the bill think it can pass the legislature quickly. Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Madison), lead author of the bill, said he was confident it would pass the Assembly Health Committee and get an Assembly floor vote, while Senate Majority Leader Russ Decker (D-Weston) has signaled that he will allow a Senate floor vote on the bill. Gov. Jim Doyle (D) has said he supports medical marijuana.

Thirteen states currently have medical marijuana laws. The District of Columbia is about to be the 14th such jurisdiction, as officials there scramble to come up with a regulatory regime for the 11-year-old medical marijuana law that will only now be implemented after Congress ended a long-standing ban against spending District funds to do so. And New Jersey could be number 15, if, as expected, the Assembly votes to approve it next month.

Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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Medical Marijuana vs full legalization

Once again a legislator shows just how out of touch with reality they are. Rep. Leah Vukmir (R-Wauwatosa) leaps out with the whole line about a facade for full legalization when if she would check with her constituents she would probably find out that many of them support it anyway.

After speaking with a state legislator here in Oregon I was disappointed to learn that during this years session they had actually been working on modifying our Medical Marijuana law to prohibit employers from drug testing a patient and firing them solely on the results of a urine test. Unfortunately the powerful owners of the companies that run heavy equipment managed to get the deal destroyed and the legislator said that he does not think any progress will be made in the near future. Very disappointing as I know many patients here who would love to work but can't get a job because the employers can refuse to hire them simply because they test positive with a urine test. If they would use a more accurate test then it would be much better because they would be testing for actually being under the influence at the time of the test.

Could be another way?

If you really want a job, just stop smoking . THC is not addictive! So, it should be easy to quit! It is a sacrifice, but what do you want more? I certainly would think the change in behavior, would save you some bucks and get you a job, both! The tests are unfair, but it still comes back to the same point. You want a job? Then stop smoking cannabis. Do you think, with all of the available employees out there, that the company has to worry about your complaining? Right now, they have the upper hand. Even if it is legalized, don't look for the companies to jump on board and stop testing for THC! It is just one more way the man has of controlling the peons! They could use the fact that you are a "patient" to deny employment, as well. They could easily decide you were "too sick" to work. They will just pick someone that is healthy, drug free, and less risk in their eyes. Even if, cannabis became legal tomorrow, the companies could still deny you employment.

Then again, you did say patients, didn't you? If a patient who uses THC, gets great results, there is no way he /she should quit! Just become another disability patients and you will get taken care of by the government, (until it runs out of money). That would be good! That is, until the government puts out a change in policy and demands all people receiving government assistance get drug tested, too! It already has been attempted!

It is obvious that you are

It is obvious that you are against MM and Marijuana altogether. You do realize that these "patients" that you speak of are normal everyday Joe's who just want a medicine that works. They want to get away from the more debilitating side affects of Morphine, Codeine, Oxycodone, Oxycontin, etc... Everyone of the above listed pills is currently legal by prescription, but addictive as hell. Not to mention, they cause severe constipation and loss of appetite. As well, Morphine and Codeine are both derivatives of Opium, which is essentially Heroine. But, I bet you have no problem throwing a couple of Tylenol 3's w/ Codeine in your yap when you have an ache or pain. Why is that? Because its legal? How else is this medicine suppose to become legal without going through the process. Quit being a follower because society says, "Oh no, It's Illegal," step outside the box, set precedence, and become a leader. Whens the last time you heard of someone dying of cancer and all they smoked was marijuana... How many times have heard about folks getting in their car and wiping out an entire family because they were high on marijuana... People die everyday of lung cancer from cigarettes and families are lost everyday because someone was drunk and killed them. But, cigarettes are still legal and we tax payers fork out the money to keep these people alive. Alcohol is still legal and it kills hundreds of thousands a year. Go fight that crime and give these "patients" a chance to be pain free with an appetite. And next time, do the research before complain, it makes you appear ignorant.

medical marijuana

i want a job but still want to be able to eat without stomach cramps. marijuana relieves the cramps so that i may eat. should i not eat while i search for a job. Or... should you hire a person based on merit, application, interview, references....or drug test results?

Medical marijuana

Why are allowing political
parties to control
the voice of the people the popular vote is legalize and create jobs,taxes and the will of the masses. Stop putting in office people who oppose legalization vote them out.

$$$$$$

Not to mention a boost in our economy, opening up more opportunities for the younger genoration. Also by doing so it would reduce the dramatic arrests in the use and purchace of this medicine.

Medical marijuana should not

Medical marijuana should not even be an issue, THC is already used as a pharmacuetical in the form of THC tablets, why not be able to regulate the dosage through the smokable form of this, it only makes sense. I would not take 8 tylenol to combat a headache, so why ingest an excessive amount of THC instead of the amount that is right for the patient as an individual?

Medical Marijuana Should Be Legalized

Being a conservative person, I too had reservations about marijuana being used for medicinal purposes. Now I have reversed my position because I have a condition that would be relieved by using it. Three years ago I had surgery to remove cancer from my tongue. The surgery was successful. The only problem I now have is continuous nerve pain. Day, night, 24 hours a day. I have not had a full night of sleep for 3 years except when doped up with pain killers. Hopefully those of us who really need help will receive it from our politicians. Thanks for letting me put my 2 cents worth in here.

WHY ISN'T POT LEGAL!!!! IS

WHY ISN'T POT LEGAL!!!! IS OUR GOVERNMENT REALLY THIS DUMB!?

Hell without Help

I suffer from 3 anxiety disorders, and severe nerve damage in my genital area. I have been found to be 50% disabled from these conditions. I can receive powerful psychiatric and opiate drugs for these conditions, but nothing works as well as marijuana. Valium barely touches a panic attack for me at a dose of 30 mg, and yet a few puffs of marijuana make it calm like magic. Not only that but it virtually eliminates the constant creeping terror that is always a part of my life. I actually went 20 years without smoking it, because I quit drinking, and they told me I had to quit everything. When I went back to smoking it, I realized that I had made myself go through 20 years of literal hell, a hell that was shared by my friends and family. I understood immediately why I had used marijuana continuously when I was younger, I was medicating those disorders, At the time, I didn't know what the were, I just knew that I was terrified all the time. On constant alert ALL THE TIME. After starting it again for the first time in 20 years I felt so much better. I was starting to make friends again, to actually function. Then, I lost my ability to get any. Now, I look at the bloody scars on my arm from self abuse, and I can't seem to keep from hating these people that are trying to keep me from feeling better. I wish they could suffer just ONE DAY like I do. I feel ashamed of this. I know I should be more forgiving. God, I just wish that you people who want us to suffer could just somehow grow a heart.... I'm crying right now at the improving life that I lost. Can you?

Prohibition?

The fact is, the world's most natural resource of medicine, is illegal....Especially when it has been used for 1000s of years. Can our government (on all levels federal state and local) not understand that The prohibition of the hemp plant is like a slap in the face to our founding fathers?

Do we not remember how our country was almost completely reliant on Hemp to provide fibers for our cloths, paper, amino acids (ALL ESSENTIAL ACIDS IN HEMP SEED OIL), and of course medicine...

Its almost down right hilarous why cannabis is illegal, on any level, it should be legalized for recreational use too!
What are government doesnt understand is that the ONLY TWO ORGANIZATIONS that want it illegal are....The drug task force (so they have a self imagine in their lost world of tyrancy), and of course, The DRUG CARTELS! They make money everytime someone buys cannabis illegally, (figuratively speaking)

The US DEA spends muti-BILLION on finding marijuana grow ops, SURE bust the people who steal electricity and who are trying to make millions of dollars, BUT over half the effort of law enforcment goes to getting average Joes like myself get into trouble...good people...
Just because cannabis would be legalized, it wouldnt be sold to just anyone! Obviously they would have restrictions which would be appropriate most likey, but the government doesnt understand that IF it were legalized, it DOES NOT mean everybody in the whole country is gonna start smoking pot and quit their damn jobs....

It is IMPOSSIBLE to be addicted to medical grade cannabis...it is so pure with THC, and no other impurities, it does its job. If anyone feels like they need it or want it....IS IT possible they are just simply self medicating some problem they have? And not even know it?, and if it works for them and they never have to pop pills, why stop? Because it is legal?

If anything should be illegal it should be the damn cancer sticks you can buy at any gas station, or wait maybe the liver disease called ALCOHOL, or maybe PAIN KILLERS.

I just cannot believe how long this ridiculous prohibition will last, it contradicts everything our country was based on, FREEDOM!
If someone is selling illegally, go arrest them! they have it coming, but petty possesion charges should just be down right DECRIMINALIZED!

99% of possesion charges probably come from people who would rather obtain cannabis legally, taxed, etc. INSTEAD of having to deal with shady characters and pay OUTRAGEOUS inflated prices, (from the risk of going to jail to have our medicine)

IF you want to learn the truth behind Cannabis, and how our government manipulated the word "MARIJUANA," and struck fear into our society, with all INCORRECT information.

Check out, The Union: truth behind cannabis. On google videos, it is around 2 hours, so you should know which one it is when you search.

Happy findings to anyone would is open minded enough to admit you've been lied to pretty much your WHOLE life about cannabis.

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