Pubdate: Wed, 03 Dec 2008
Source: Shepherd Express (Milwaukee, WI)
Copyright: 2008 Alternative Publications Inc.
Author:  Lisa Kaiser
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)


On Nov. 4, Michigan became the 13th state to legalize medical
marijuana when 63% of its voters approved a grassroots-supported
ballot initiative. Now, a quarter of all Americans live in a medical
marijuana state.

But even though 80% of Wisconsin residents approve of legalizing
medical marijuana for seriously ill patients, the state does not allow
voters to ratify a program through the ballot initiative process, as
Michigan did. Instead, medical marijuana supporters must urge the
state Legislature to pass a bill in both houses that also would be
supported by the governor.

Unfortunately, attempts to get a well-thought-out bill through the
state Legislature have failed in past years, even with bipartisan
support among lawmakers.

But Gary Storck, spokesman for Is My Medicine Legal Yet? (IMMLY), said
he's "fairly confident" that a Democratically controlled state
Legislature will legalize medical marijuana in the next session. "It's
becoming more of a mainstream issue," Storck said. "And it would be
really wrong to delay something that got such strong support in
Michigan. I think it would be incredibly cruel to string it out. The
groundwork has already been done."

He said the Legislature should act quickly to save people's lives. "I
know people who are having a really hard time every day because they
don't have legal access to medical marijuana," Storck said. "Their
situations are so dire that they're not going to see it in their
lifetime, even if it is passed in the next session."

While most medical marijuana users are coping with cancer treatments,
glaucoma, HIV/AIDS and chronic pain, Storck added that veterans with
post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or brain injuries may also
benefit from medical marijuana use. Other research indicates that
using marijuana may forestall Alzheimer's disease and dementia.

What's more, Storck argued that the state as a whole would benefit
economically from cannabis research and a legal medical marijuana
industry. "It's an industry with a lot of jobs," Storck said. "And we
can have it here really easily."

Storck is also encouraged by the U.S. Supreme Court's refusal on Dec.
1 to review a case concerning California's medical marijuana law. He
said it shows that even the highest court in the land has decided to
respect state laws in this area, despite a 2005 court decision that
seemed to give the federal government more power over state-level
medical marijuana programs. "This is a case with ramifications in
Wisconsin," Storck said. "There isn't a gray area anymore. The Supreme
Court said that law enforcement should uphold state law first."

Storck said that a Milwaukee-area NORML chapter is in the works; those
who are interested can contact him at or the state
chapter of NORML at

Lisa Kaiser
- ---
MAP posted-by: Larry Seguin