Pubdate: Wed, 12 Dec 2001
Source: Duluth News-Tribune (MN)
Copyright: 2001 Duluth News-Tribune
Author: Sarah Wyatt, Associated Press
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)


MADISON -- Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Ed Thompson endorsed a bill 
Tuesday that would allow Wisconsin residents suffering from cancer, AIDS, 
glaucoma and other diseases to legally smoke marijuana to help manage their 
pain and increase their appetites.

"It's high time that the Wisconsin Legislature gets off its high horse and 
recognizes how important this is," said Thompson, who is mayor of Tomah and 
brother of U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson.

"Nobody's ever died from the use of marijuana," he said. "It's not harmful 
but helpful."

Reps. Frank Boyle, D-Superior, and Mark Pocan, D-Madison, on Tuesday 
introduced the bill, which would allow people to grow or buy marijuana if 
their doctor gave them a statement consenting to its use for medical purposes.

It's an issue state lawmakers have brought up for nearly eight years, Boyle 

The bill would allow nonprofit corporations to produce and distribute 
medical marijuana if they were licensed and regulated by the state 
Department of Health and Family Services.

Gary Storck, of the group "Is My Medicine Legal Yet," said he has been 
using medical marijuana for 30 years to treat his glaucoma and arthritis, 
despite the risk of arrest and conviction under state and federal laws.

"This is the only thing that allows me to function normally," he said. 
"People are very caught up in the image of the dope-smoking hippie, but it 
goes beyond that. It does have medical benefits."

The bill faces substantial opposition in the state Assembly and among the 
medical community.

"This topic has been a perennial loser here in the Assembly that has done a 
lot to define Madison liberals but not much to impact the debate," said 
Steve Baas, spokesman for Assembly Speaker Scott Jensen, R-Waukesha.

Dr. Michael Miller, former president of the Dane County Medical Society, 
said there have been clinical trials of orally administered and prescribed 
THC, which is the active ingredient in marijuana, but not of smoked marijuana.

"There's not clear evidence that it works for any medical condition," he said.

The State Medical Society supports lifting legal barriers to clinical 
trials, but not to legalizing marijuana's medical use, because there are 
too many potential risks, including increased addiction, Miller said.

Voters in Arizona, Alaska, Colorado, Maine, Nevada, Oregon and Washington 
also have approved ballot initiatives allowing the use of medical 
marijuana. A Hawaii law, which provided the framework for the Wisconsin 
bill, was passed by the Legislature and signed by the governor last year.
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