Pubdate: Sat, 24 Oct 2009
Source: Monroe Times (WI)
Copyright: 2009 Monroe Publishing LLC
Author: Sen. Jon Erpenbach, D-Waunakee
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal - United States)

Sen. Jon Erpenbach:


To see a loved one or friend in pain and to watch them struggle at the
end of their life or from harsh treatments like chemotherapy is
terrible. You watch the person you love disappear. To find peace and
free them of pain is all that you hope for; for some people that
relief could come as prescribed medical marijuana.

With all of the extraordinary advances of medicine and all of the
life-saving techniques we have, sometimes relief can be as simple as
marijuana - currently a regulated illegal drug in Wisconsin. I am
co-authoring the Jackie Rickert Medical Marijuana Act this session in
the hope that this medical option can be available to all Wisconsin
patients who need it. Drafted based on the Michigan medical marijuana
bill that passed by statewide referendum, this bill simply gives
patients and their doctors an option to consider marijuana without
fear of prosecution. The Michigan referendum passed in all 83
counties, with a 63 percent majority statewide.

This is an issue where the public has been far ahead of policy makers.
Polling in Wisconsin has shown consistent support for medical
marijuana, most recently reaching above 75 percent approval. In the
seven states where medical marijuana was added as a ballot initiative,
it passed in each state with a wide margin. As we work to address
comprehensive health care reform, consideration should be given to the
benefits of medical marijuana for patients with a debilitating medical

The bill provides a medical necessity defense for marijuana-related
prosecutions and property seizure if the patient has a valid
prescription from their physician and an ID card from Department of
Health Services. Conditions covered could include cancer, glaucoma,
AIDS and HIV, and diseases as determined by administrative rule. The
bill also creates a maximum amount of marijuana a patient may have,
establishing clear limits for both the patient and law enforcement. If
someone who is prescribed marijuana commits a crime, like operating a
vehicle under the influence, they cannot use the defense created in
this bill; they still have to follow Wisconsin laws. Finally, the bill
gives the state Department of Health the ability to create rules for a
registry of people allowed to use medical marijuana and for the
licensing and regulation of a nonprofit corporation to distribute marijuana.

Recently, President Obama said that the federal law enforcement will
follow the laws of the states regarding medical marijuana. Currently,
there are 13 states where medical marijuana is legal and another 14
states where legislation is pending. Clearly the public pendulum on
this issue is in support. That support, however, is not the only
reason why the Wisconsin Legislature should act to make medical
marijuana legal; we should act because it is simply the right thing to
do for patients in pain.

Our friends and family deserve all medicinal options available when
they struggle with disease and the therapy we have created to kill
disease. Please contact my office for additional information on the
Jackie Rickert Medical Marijuana Act at (888) 549-0027 or (608)
266-6670 or via e-mail at Sen. Jon Erpenbach, D-Waunakee, serves the 27th Senate District. 
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