Pubdate: Thu, 29 Oct 2009
Source: Marquette Tribune (Marquette U, WI, Edu)
Contact:  2009 The Marquette Tribune
Author: Rebecca Prybell
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal - United States)


Gov. Jim Doyle supports legislation to legalize marijuana for medical 
purposes in Wisconsin.

Doyle spoke last Wednesday at Maine Elementary School in Wausau, Wis. 
After explaining his plan for Wisconsin education, he said he agrees 
with the Obama administration's decision not to prosecute those in 
possession of medical marijuana in the 14 states where it has been 
legalized and believes that if a doctor prescribes it, a patient 
should be allowed to have it.

Supporters of legalizing medical marijuana in Wisconsin say that in 
comparison to other legal substances, marijuana is relatively user-safe.

Bruce Mirken, director of communication for the largest marijuana 
policy reform group in the country, the Marijuana Policy Project, 
said medical marijuana is currently used primarily for symptom relief 
of illnesses such as cancer, glaucoma, HIV, AIDS and multiple sclerosis.

"It is downright criminal that the (effect of using medical marijuana 
as treatment for certain illnesses) hasn't been studied more in 
humans," Mirken said. "There is tantalizing evidence that it may 
protect nerve cells from damage, slow the development of some 
illnesses ... and may even have anti-cancer activity."

The Marijuana Policy Project focuses on the states it feels have the 
best chance to pass legislation, Mirken said.

"We are the folks who got medical marijuana legislation passed in 
Michigan in 2008," Mirken said.

In Wisconsin, the Jacki Rickert Medical Marijuana Act is currently 
sponsored by Sen. Jon Erpenbach (D-Waunakee) and Rep. Mark Pocan 
(D-Madison). However, both lack the co-sponsor necessary to bring the 
bill to the floor of either house. The Rickert Act is based off the 
legislation passed in Michigan, where two-thirds of Michigan voters 
approved the legalization of medical marijuana, according to the 
Marijuana Policy Project Web site.

Lee Sensenbrenner, spokesman for Doyle, said the governor used to be 
a prosecutor and understands the impracticality of prosecuting people 
for using a substance if it could be prescribed by their doctor.

"Of the states that have legalized marijuana, the governor thinks 
some have done a better job than others of closing loopholes (in 
medical marijuana reform)," Sensenbrenner said. "As far as 
legislation goes, those kinds of things would be up to the 
legislature and would have to be debated before they came to the 
governor's desk."

A local pro-marijuana lobbying group called Milwaukee Area NORML, 
which meets at the Brewing Ground for Change Cafe, 2008 N. Farwell 
Ave., is delighted by Doyle's remarks, said Jeffrey Peterson, 
executive director of Milwaukee Area NORML.

"(Doyle) has indicated in the past his willingness to sign a bill if 
it ever reaches his desk," Peterson said. "Legalization is our final 
goal. In my eyes, it's a civil right."

Milwaukee Area NORML is a chapter of a national organization called 
NORML that lobbies for legalizing marijuana in 40 states, including a 
Wisconsin chapter, a Madison chapter and now the Milwaukee chapter, 
which received its charter in August.

"We want to get out and educate the public about the truth about 
cannibis," Peterson said. "And not just for medical purposes. The 
effect of marijuana is safer than alcohol in many ways."
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