Pubdate: Fri, 02 Dec 2005
Source: Capital Times, The  (WI)
Copyright: 2005 The Capital Times
Author: Gary Storck
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)


Recent public hearings at the Capitol illustrate that while there are 
strong divisions among Wisconsinites over issues like gay marriage 
and concealed carry, legal access to medical marijuana is something 
most people agree on.

Polling in 2002 and 2005 found upwards of 80 percent support among 
state residents, a number few, if any, other issues command. Yet 
comments by some Assembly Health Committee members during the hearing 
on Nov. 22 show a large disconnect between the will of the people and 
the views of lawmakers who represent them. One would think that when 
an issue enjoys such popular support, lawmakers would put aside their 
personal beliefs and default to the wishes of constituents.

AB-740, Rep. Gregg Underheim's medical marijuana legislation, is an 
extremely moderate bill. As one patient who testified at the hearing 
later confided, "It pretty much keeps current law as it is."

Federal patient Irvin Rosenfeld testified at the hearing that he 
legally receives 11 ounces of medical marijuana from the federal 
government's stash every 25 days. AB-740, by contrast, only allows 
patients to possess 2.5 ounces at a time.

Some of the best advice of the day for the committee came from IMMLY 
founder Jacki Rickert, a Wisconsin patient approved in 1990 to 
participate in the same program as Irvin Rosenfeld, but never 
supplied after the program was closed to new participants in 1992. 
"Vote from your heart," Jacki implored committee members, "not what 
the next election will bring."

The truth is, elected representatives do not have to fear losing 
their seats for supporting medical marijuana. If anything, the 
opposite is true. The Health Committee heard a lot of compelling 
testimony about the benefits of therapeutic cannabis and the need to 
protect Wisconsin patients already using it as medicine.

The next step is now up to the committee. They can vote to give 
suffering patients and their families hope this holiday season by 
sending AB-740 to the entire Assembly for a vote, or they can play 
Scrooge and vote to kill compassionate legislation already working 
well in 10 states comprising 20 percent of the U.S. population.

Gary Storck, director of communications

Is My Medicine Legal YET?

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MAP posted-by: Beth Wehrman