UPDATE: Fighting For Medical Marijuana

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UPDATED Wednesday, April 21, 2010 --- 5:21 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Medical marijuana will remain illegal in Wisconsin.

A proposal to legalize it is not among the issues the Legislature will take up on its final day in session on Thursday.

While advocates for legalizing it had hoped the bill would pass under support from Democrats who control the Legislature, the proposal never made it up for a vote in either the Senate or Assembly.

Leaders in both chambers failed to support the bill.

Backers of legalizing medical marijuana say it will help the chronically ill deal with pain. But opponents including the Wisconsin Medical Society say there are better and more effective alternatives.

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.


UPDATE: Saturday, March 27, 2010 --- 4:30 p.m.
By: Chris Woodard

Time may be running out for supporters of medical marijuana.

Statewide, they're making a last minute push to get noticed.

With every car that blows its horn the demonstrators make progress.

Their message is getting out there.

Medical Marijuana advocate Gary Storck says, "It's a problem with awareness of some legislators. They don't really understand the critical need for this."

This legislative session ends in a month and so far the Jacki Rickert Medical Marijuana Act hasn't seen much action so demonstrators are lining up at 30 sites across the state.

In Madison it is a small but passionate turn out.

Tara Mcraven says, "My dad has terminal cancer. I believe if it helps him it should be legal.

Storck says, "I have congenital glaucoma. It (marijuana) allows me to live a life with dignity."

Right now the bill is stuck in committee but at a public hearing in December the opposition made its disagreement known.

Republican Rep. Leah Vukmir accused Democratic backers of using chronically ill patients to push a secret agenda of making pot legal for everyone.

Today the fight continues.

With every message they're passing along demonstrators are hoping to make one last push to get something done because they know in the state legislature time is running out.

The State Department of Justice is among those opposing the bill but Governor Doyle has said he would sign the bill if it came to his desk.


UPDATE Posted Tuesday, December 15, 2009 -- 5:11pm
By Zac Schultz

Madison: A hearing on medical marijuana was both heated and emotional Tuesday at the Capitol, as supporters testified how using marijuana has helped them deal with long term illnesses.

The bill would allow people to use marijuana to relieve pain and nausea associated with chronic illnesses like cancer, aids, glaucoma and others.

Here's how it would work: A patient would get a doctor's recommendation, which would allow them to buy marijuana from non-profit 'compassionate care' houses. Or a patient could legally grow 12 marijuana plants for their own use.

Gary Storck has the been fighting to legalize medical marijuana for years.
His business card says it all, with the logo, "Is My Medicine Legal YET?"

Tuesday's joint public hearing at the Capitol was a big step. He's suffered from various ailments his whole life and first used marijuana to treat his glaucoma in 1972. "I made a mental note that cannabis could save my eyesight."

Storck says other drugs don't work for him, and he doesn't want to be a criminal to be healthy. "Cannabis has been like a key fitting a lock for treating this condition for me. It's been a godsend. It's allowed me to live a fairly active life and not be on all kinds of pharmaceuticals."

"Cannabis works best," says Jacki Rickert, who suffers from a painful connective tissue disorder that makes it hard to breathe. She tried other drugs, including a pharmaceutical form of marijuana called Marinol. "We tried to go the legal route. My doctor did every single thing to do this legally. We didn't want to break the law. But sometimes you have to."

Sen. Jon Erpenbach (D-Waunakee) is a co-sponsor of the bill. "For some people in this state, marijuana is the cleanest, quickest way to ease their pain."

Rep. Leah Vukmir (R-Wauwatosa) opposes the bill, and accused Sen. Erpenbach of using sick people as a facade and a shield to move one step closer to the full legalization of marijuana. "I am concerned about people who have illnesses, and there are ways to take care of those people. But this isn't what this is about. I think I wish you would be a little more honest about it."

Erpenbach cut her off. "You actually think I want to legalize marijuana for everybody in the state of Wisconsin? Honestly? You don't even know me crying out loud. You really don't. This is all about health."

Governor Doyle has said he would sign the bill if it came to his desk.

Recently President Obama told the federal government to stop prosecuting people for the use of medicinal marijuana. However, the federal government still considers marijuana to be an illegal drug.

That's one of the reasons why the Department of Justice opposes the bill. Spokesperson Kevin St. John says another reason is they believe allowing sick people to grow their own pot will just lead to more crime.

Under the bill each patient could possess up to 12 marijuana plants. Each plant can produce a pound or more of the drug, perhaps three or four times a year. "In terms of street value, high quality marijuana product with a high THC content, a pound can go for $4,000. Therefore an individual could have, at any given time, on them almost $50,000 worth of product."

lLaw enforcement officials believe sick people and growing operations would be targets for home invasions and robberies.

On top of that, under the bill a primary caregiver could have 5 patients at a time, meaning they could have 60 plants in their possession at one time.


UPDATED Tuesday, December 15, 2009 --- 12:50 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A Republican opponent to allowing medical marijuana in Wisconsin accuses Democratic backers of using chronically ill patients to push a secret agenda of making pot legal for everyone.

Rep. Leah Vukmir's claim at a Tuesday public hearing drew boos from many in the room packed with sick people in wheelchairs or walking with the assistance of canes. Supporters say marijuana helps patients deal with painful diseases, cancer treatments and other ailments.

Vukmir says there is no medical reasons to use marijuana and that other pain relief measures should be pursued that "do not require individuals to light a joint."

Bill sponsors Rep. Mark Pocan of Madison and Sen. Jon Erpenbach of Waunakee vehemently denied that their goal was to legalize marijuana for everyone.

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.


UPDATED Tuesday, December 15, 2009 --- 7:30 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Advocates for medical marijuana hope a Democratic-controlled Legislature will make Wisconsin the 14th state in the country to legalize using the drug to help ease the pain of cancer treatments and other serious diseases.

They got to make their case Tuesday at a public hearing before the Senate and Assembly health committees.

Under the proposal by two Democrats, a person would need a prescription from a doctor to receive marijuana. It could either be grown at home or obtained through a licensed nonprofit dispensary.

According to a fiscal estimate, the Department of Health Services could not say how many people would qualify for marijuana prescriptions.

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.


UPDATED Sunday, December 6, 2009 --- 4:49 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The public will get a chance next Tuesday (December 15) to comment on a proposal to legalize medical marijuana in Wisconsin.

A bill to do that will be the subject of a joint hearing before the Senate and Assembly health committees.

Advocates of medical marijuana have tried to legalize it for years, arguing that it helps ease the pain for those suffering from myriad diseases, including cancer and AIDS.

Under the bill, in order to get medical marijuana the patient would need to have a doctor's prescription and suffer from one of a list of ailments listed in the bill.

The state would keep a registry of both those who can receive and dispense marijuana.

The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws says 13 states have legalized marijuana.

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.


POSTED Monday, November 16, 2009 --- 12:10 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Supporters of legalizing marijuana for medical purposes say the time is right to change the law in Wisconsin.

Two Democratic state lawmakers announced on Monday that a bill they are co-sponsoring to legalize medical marijuana will be the subject of a public hearing on Dec. 15. Sen. Jon Erpenbach of Waunakee says he thinks there is enough support to get it passed.

He and Assembly co-sponsor Rep. Mark Pocan of Madison were joined by advocacy groups and patients who say using marijuana can help those ill with cancer regain their appetite and deal with pain from their diseases and treatments.

Thirteen states have legalized medical marijuana and Gov. Jim Doyle last month said he would support it if users have a doctor's prescription.

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.