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November 23, 2005

Recap of Nov. 22 Public Hearing for AB-740

Posted by Gary Storck
Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2005
Updated Monday, Nov. 28, 2005

The public hearing for AB 740 seemed to go reasonably well. Committee members asked many thoughtful questions and testimony was strong. 17 people spoke in favor of AB-740, with 7 more registering in support. Only 1 person, the lobbyist for the State Medical Society, spoke in opposition click here. No one registered in oppisition. The next step is the committee vote. As of today, the vote date is unknown.

Supporters living in Health Committee members districts are urged to write, email or call their representatives and ask them to support this bill. Committee members names and phone numbers can be found below.

Former Maryland legislator Don Murphy and current Connecticut State Representative Penny Bacchiochi, both members of Republicans for Compassionate Access, testified first along with committee chair and bill sponsor Rep. Gregg Underheim. The trio combined to make a strong case for compassion and common sense.

Legal federal patient/stockbroker Irvin Rosenfeld's testimony raised issues that would have otherwise not been raised, like the 220 pounds of federal medical marijuana he has received over the last 23 years from the U.S. government pot farm in Oxford MS. His compelling testimony of using up to 12 federal cannabis cigarettes per day without any ill effects whatsoever to successfully treat his rare medical condition was a stunning contrast to the reefer madness sensationalism of opponents.

Next, Jacki Rickert (whose health problems nearly scratched her appearance) and I testified together for Is My Medicine Legal YET? click here. Her presence definitely elevated things. I followed her by talking about my situation, then a lot about her. I think it was the most emotional testimony of the day.

Testimony from a number of patients and supporters followed, including members of Madison and WI NORML. A good number of people watched the hearing in the GAR Hall on the Capitol's 4th floor.

No representatives of law enforcement testified. Gina Dennik-Champion of the Wisconsin Nurses Association testified in support click here, as she had at a 2001 informational hearing at the Capitol click here.

The only testimony in opposition came from a paid lobbyist employed by the State Medical Society click here, Mark Grapentine click here. Grapentine is a lawyer, former television sports anchor and a former aide to Republican politicos Scott Walker and Tommy Thompson, who joined the SMS in 2003. He has no medical credentials but was active in criminal justice issues for Thompson and pushed private prisons in Wisconsin click here while working for Walker, now a candidate for Wisconsin governor in 2006. While the SMS chose to send a lawyer instead of a doctor, as they had done in 2001 when they sent Dr. Mike Miller, Grapentine only said "smoked marijuana" twice compared to 19 for Miller click here. I think it says a lot about the SMS that while law enforcement representatives chose not to testify at the hearing, they send their director of governmental relations to urge that patients remain criminals under state law for medicating with cannabis.

Media coverage included 2 Madison tv stations: Channels 3 and 15, WI Public Radio, WI Radio Network and WIBA present. WIZM in La Crosse carried reports too. Outside of the WI State Journal article about Irvin, I have seen no other print media so far.

In the meantime, you can help by calling the members of the committe and asking they support AB-740.

Leah Vukmir, vice chair- R Wauwatosa
Telephone (608) 266-9180

Curt Gielow- R Mequon
Telephone (608) 266-0486

Steve Wieckert- R Appleton
Telephone (608) 266-3070

Judy Krawczyk- R Green Bay
Telephone (608) 266-0485 or (888) 534-0088

Jean L. Hundertmark- R Clintonville
Telephone (608) 266-3794 or (888) 947-0040

Pat Strachota- R West Bend
Telephone (608) 264-8486

Terry Moulton- R Chippewa Falls
Telephone (608) 266-9172

Sheldon A. Wasserman-D Milwaukee
Telephone (608) 266-7671 or (888) 534-0022

Jennifer Shilling-D La Crosse
Telephone (608) 266-5780 or (888) 534-0095

Amy Sue Vruwink-D Milladore
Telephone (608) 266-8366 (888) 534-0070

Chuck Benedict-D Beloit (Retired Neurologist)
Telephone (608) 266-9967

Tom Nelson-D Kaukauna
Telephone (608) 266-2418 (888) 534-0005

Your support is greatly appreciated.

Sample script:

Hello, I am calling about AB 740, Rep. Gregg Underheim's medical marijuana bill that is being considered by the Health Committee today. I am asking that Rep. ----- vote for this sensible and compassionate legislation.

Please stand up for Wisconsin patients by contacting Health Committee members. Let them know the public thinks safe access to medical marijuana is a reasonable and overdue action for the legislature to take.

Posted by Gary at November 23, 2005 11:05 AM

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