Pubdate: Thu, 29 Oct 2009
Source: Capital Times, The  (WI)
Copyright: 2009 The Capital Times
Author: Gary Storck
Note: Gary Storck of Madison is director of communications for Is My 
Medicine Legal YET?


Thanks to the efforts of Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Madison, and Sen. Jon 
Erpenbach, D-Waunakee, Wisconsin's Jacki Rickert Medical Marijuana 
Act is finally out of the gates and on its way to introduction in the 
Wisconsin Legislature.

The proposal is a comprehensive medical marijuana bill based on the 
law Michigan voters passed with a majority in every county in 
November 2008. It would cover the same debilitating conditions as 
Michigan does, as well as post-traumatic stress disorder. PTSD is a 
major complaint of veterans returning from the Afghan and Iraq wars. 
Cannabis has long been known as a remedy for PTSD that helps victims 
of war and other trauma get on with their lives.

Last week's action by the Obama administration in setting new policy 
that exempts state medical marijuana programs from federal 
interference is just another piece of the puzzle coming together to 
bring this critical health care bill to the people of Wisconsin. Gov. 
Jim Doyle's remarks Oct. 21 in Wausau that keeping medical cannabis 
from patients who can benefit is "senseless" is another sign that 
Wisconsin is ready to do the right thing for our state's veterans, 
seniors, sick, dying and disabled for whom medical cannabis might be an option.

While Wisconsin patients await legislative action, some will not live 
long enough to see the Rickert measure become law. One such person 
was my dear friend Mary Powers, a wheelchair-bound Army veteran; a 
cancer, AIDS and hepatitis patient; and a medical cannabis activist.

For the last five years, Mary and I visited the Capitol numerous 
times to lobby for medical cannabis. Cannabis clearly helped Mary, 
slowing the progression of her cancer and helping her with the side 
effects of medications and endless chemo and radiation treatments. 
Cannabis therapy allowed her to twice testify before legislative 
hearings. This year, as the legislation was coming together, Mary and 
I instituted weekly Capitol visits. By the end of the summer, we had 
visited over 80 offices, and Mary and her wheelchair became a 
familiar figure in the Capitol.

Mary ran out of time on Thursday, Oct. 22, passing away peacefully at 
home. The legislation came too late for her. Although she served her 
country, she was forced to break the law to obtain the only medicine 
that treated all her symptoms and naturally elevated her mood as she 
struggled with multiple medical conditions, medication and treatment 
side effects, unending doctor visits, and way too many hours in ER 
and clinic waiting rooms.

We can't turn back the clock and give Mary her medicine legally, but 
we can protect the other "Marys" still with us.

As Jacki Rickert, namesake of the bill, has said, "This bill this 
time." Thirteen states comprising 25 percent of the U.S. population 
now protect their sick and dying using medical cannabis. It's time 
for medical cannabis in Wisconsin. Please help make it a reality for 
our veterans, seniors, sick, dying and disabled.
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake