Pubdate: Wed, 7 Oct 2009
Source: Badger Herald (U of WI, Madison, WI Edu)
Copyright: 2009 Badger Herald
Author: Ryan Rainey
Cited: Is My Medicine Legal Yet?
Bookmark: (Marijuana - Medicinal)


CO-Authored by 2 Wisconsin Lawmakers, Legislation Follows Lead of 14
Other States

After last weekend's Great Midwest Marijuana Harvest Festival protest
on the Capitol steps brought attention to the issue of medical
marijuana, two Wisconsin Democrats have proposed legislation that
would legalize cannabis for medical purposes in the state.

According to a statement from advocacy group Is My Medicine Legal
Yet?, Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Madison, and Sen. Jon Erpenbach, D-Waunakee,
are the co-authors of the Jacki Rickert Medical Marijuana Act, which
if passed would allow terminally or seriously ill patients to grow or
have someone else grow a small amount of cannabis for medical use.

Rickert is a Mondovi, Wis., citizen suffering from Ehlers-Danlos
syndrome who was never given federal government-issued joints for
medical use, according to the statement.

Michigan voters approved a similar initiative in a statewide
referendum, which is the basis for the Wisconsin bill, said Gary
Storck, spokesperson for IMMLY. The bill is the early stages of
development, currently gaining co-sponsorships from Wisconsin senators
and representatives.

Storck said the legislation covers a broad base of debilitating
illnesses and he named post-traumatic stress disorder as a prominent
target of the bill.

"It's been known for many years that cannabis is a potent remedy for
the symptoms of PTSD," Storck said. "It helps them sleep and wean
themselves off of alcohol and other substances that may be preventing
them from readjusting."

Stork said he hopes the inclusion of PTSD as a debilitating condition
will compel the state Legislature to give more consideration to the
bill. He also said medical marijuana dispensaries more tightly
regulated than those found in California would be allowed for patients
with a state-issued ID card.

Storck also cited President Barack Obama's administration's decision
not to interfere with state-sponsored cannabis dispensaries, an
overridden veto in Rhode Island allowing dispensaries and the lack of
hostility from Wisconsin citizens and legislators as factors that have
made the issue more mainstream.

According to Erpenbach spokesperson Julie Laundrie, the issue has
become more legitimate around the country in the past years; 13 states
now allow the use of medical marijuana and 14 states currently have
medical marijuana legislation pending.

Laundrie also said she believes the issue of medical marijuana will go
beyond partisan politics.

"Mostly, people who would be using medical marijuana would be at the
end of life or in very dire situations," Laundrie said. "Everyone
knows someone that has really struggled when they were dying or when
they were in treatment that was really painful or awful for them. I
don't think that has anything to do with party lines."

Since the bill is still in its preliminary stages, it is difficult to
measure Republican support or opposition to the bill. However, Kimber
Liedl, spokesperson for Senate Minority Leader Scott Fitzgerald,
R-Juneau, said the legalization of marijuana should not be allowed,
even under medical circumstances.

"The addictive and dangerous nature of the drug outweighs its
benefits," Liedl said. "It's not high on the legislative agenda for
this session. Other initiatives such as drunken driving legislation
hold a greater priority than the legalization of marijuana."
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