Pubdate: Wed, 15 Mar 2000
Source: Capital Times, The  (WI)
Copyright: 2000 The Capital Times
Author: Doug Moe
Note: Doug Moe is a columnist for The Capital Times.
Related: The article at this link also has a list of articles and web pages 
about Jacki Rickert:


IT WAS late Monday, just before midnight, when the police came. There
were two officers, and although they didn't have a search warrant,
Jacki Rickert let them in her home in Mondovi, a small Buffalo County
town southwest of Eau Claire.

The officers spoke to Rickert, and by 3:30 Tuesday morning they had a
search warrant, which they executed. They confiscated numerous small
pipes and plastic baggies containing a green leafy material. Early
Tuesday afternoon, Mondovi Police Chief Terry Pittman said, "Some of
it has been tested, and the tests came back positive for

Asked whether criminal charges will be filed against Rickert, Pittman
said, "That will be up to the district attorney.''

It's a stunning turn of events for Rickert, who has been one of the
most prominent proponents nationally for the use of marijuana for
medical purposes. She is currently the No. 2 listed plaintiff in a
federal civil suit.

Rickert is 49, in a wheelchair, and weighs 90 pounds. "Though I've
seen her as low as 76,'' her daughter, Tammy, who lives in Middleton,
said Tuesday. Rickert suffers from Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and
reflexive sympathetic dystrophy, bone and muscle illnesses that keep
her in constant pain and often unable to eat. She smokes marijuana
because it eases the pain somewhat and allows her to eat.

In September 1997, Rickert led a 210-mile "march'' from Mondovi to
Madison to publicize the need for legislation that would allow medical
patients such as Rickert to have legal access to marijuana.

In August 1999, Rickert participated in a protest at the Washington,
D.C., office of U.S. Rep. Bob Barr in response to Barr's attempts to
overturn a District of Columbia referendum authorizing the medical use
of marijuana.

There is cruel irony in all this for Rickert. In 1990 she was approved
to receive medical marijuana from the government under a federal
program that was being looked at critically by the George Bush

"I was her in-home caregiver at the time,'' Tammy said. "She had
received approval from the Drug Enforcement Agency, the Federal Drug
Administration and the National Institute on Drug Abuse.'' Tammy said
there were requirements set down that went along with Jackie's
enrollment in the program: "She'd receive 300 pre-rolled cigarettes a
month, there were instructions on how to smoke it, and she couldn't
accept any other marijuana from any other source once she received her
first marijuana from the government.''

There was another requirement: Her Mondovi physician needed a safe
weighing at least 700 pounds in which the marijuana would be stored
until the doctor provided it to Rickert. While the family was
arranging for a safe, the Bush administration canceled the medical
marijuana program. If you were in the program, you were grandfathered
in. If not -- and Rickert was not yet officially enrolled -- you were

"But essentially,'' Tammy said, "the government had said she could use
marijuana for medical reasons. She had to stop getting it from other
sources once the first government marijuana arrived. It never did.''

Pittman, the police chief, said that it was while talking with Jacki
Rickert about another matter that "Jacki herself admitted'' to an
officer there was marijuana in her house. "We hadn't had probable
cause'' to search before that, Pittman said.

Asked about the wisdom of busting a 90-pound invalid with a raid in
the middle of the night, Pittman said, "I've got a job to do. Until
the law changes, it's still illegal.''

Jacki Rickert's daughter said the police stayed 10 hours -- leaving
only at 10 a.m. Tuesday -- and that her mother is a wreck. "She's
tiny, frail,'' Tammy said. "She's not out to hurt anybody. She's
trying to maintain some semblance of a quality of life. The marijuana,
which the government pretty much told her she could use, helps a
little. This whole thing is unbelievable.'' 
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