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December 20, 2005

Medical Marijuana in Wisconsin: Looking Back at 2005: Part Two

Posted by Gary Storck
Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Part One dealt with January to June 2005. In this entry, I move on to the second half of 2005's developments.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Milwaukee's weekly Shepherd Express publishes a blockbuster cover story, "The Politics of Pot Medical Marijuana Activists Are Just Getting Started"

(Source: Shepherd Express)

14 July 2005: Shepherd Express: The Politics of Pot Medical Marijuana Activists Are Just Getting Started click here

MAP: The Politics of Pot Medical Marijuana Activists Are Just Getting Started click here

Rep. Gregg Underheim, a Republican legislator from Oshkosh, has a lot of support, even if it is silent.

When an issue has 65% support from the public, enacting sympathetic legislation would seem to be a no-brainer.

And when support reaches 80% in Wisconsin, you would think that our state representatives would be falling all over themselves to follow the will of the people.


But when the issue concerns that legalization of marijuana for medicinal purposes, things get complicated. On the one hand, there are those who understand—sometimes first hand—the usefulness and benefits of this sometimes lifesaving drug. Many of these people are living with cancer, multiple sclerosis, HIV, glaucoma or chronic pain or illness.

Gary Storck, a medical marijuana activist in Madison, is one of those people.


Thursday, July 21, 2005

Howard Wooldridge, a former police officer who is now an activist with the group, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) click here spoke in Madison on July 21 at the Madison Senior Center. The event was sponsored by the Progressive Dane drug policy task force, UW-Madison Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP), 4 Lakes Greens and Madison NORML. Howard's visit came during a cross-country horseback ride to raise awareness of the many failures of the war on drugs.

Howard rides his horse, Misty, from coast to coast. (Source: LEAP)

Friday, August 12, 2005

Madison's weekly Isthmus runs a shorter version of the Shepherd Express article.


14 August 2005: Isthmus:Will Wisconsin Allow Pot As Medicine? click here

State Rep. Gregg Underheim, ( R-Oshkosh ) has his own reasons for the supporting the legal use of marijuana as medicine. The chair of the Assembly's Committee on Health, Underheim was diagnosed with cancer in 2002. Although he did not have to undergo chemotherapy or radiation treatment, he spoke to other cancer patients about the possibility of using marijuana in such circumstances.

"There is a wide array of medical uses," Underheim says. "Marijuana more effectively deals with issues of appetite. When you are in chemotherapy, you can become violently ill. Marijuana quells the nausea and gives you an appetite. Also, AIDS patients are often rail thin from all of their medications, and marijuana helps bring back their appetite.


Thursday, September 29, 2005

On the eve of Harvest Fest, Madison's Core Weekly continued its cannabis-friendly coverage by tapping me for the weekly feature, "Coffee With..."

(Source: Core Weekly)

29 September 2005: Core Weekly: Coffee With...Gary Storck click here
MAP: Coffee With...Gary Storck click here


Three decades later, in 1970, Congress passed the Controlled Substance Act, which placed all drugs into one of five categories, or schedules. Marijuana was placed along drugs like heroin and LSD in Schedule I, meaning it has a high potential for abuse and no medical value.

It's unlikely there is a Madisonian who disagrees with this more than Gary Storck. On Oct. 3, 1972, Storck, then a 17-year-old Waukesha resident, smoked a joint with his friends. Born with glaucoma, Storck's eyes often retained extra fluid, which put extra pressure on the optic nerve, causing pain. To his surprise, his eyes relaxed after smoking the joint. Weed had eased this troublesome symptom, something conventional medicines had failed to do.


Friday, September 30, 2005

The 35th Annual Great Midwest Marijuana Harvest Festival kicks off with the Third Annual IMMLY/Madison NORML benefit at Madison's Cardinal Bar. Special guests include NORML Founder Keith Stroup, California activists Chris Conrad and Mikki Norris, New Jersey's Jim Miller and one of the world's most renowned exertts on medical cannabis, Dr. Tod Mikuriya of Berkely CA. Dr. Tod helped entertain attendees by joining guitarist Mark Shanahan to sing "Midnight Special" and another tune.

Saturday, October 1, 2005

Harvest Fest continues at the Libray Mall in downtown Madison. Balmy temperatures made for a mellow day as attendees enjoyed live music by some of Madison's finest bands punctuated by rousing speeches by Keith Stroup, Ben Masel, Dr. Tod, Chris & Mikki, Jim Miller, myself and others.

Keith Stroup speaks as Dr. Tod videotapes on Saturday. (Source: Matt)

Keith signs a Madison NORML t-shirt for Jacki Rickert, who was unable to attend, as me and Jim look on. (Source: Matt)

Dr. Tod, Keith and Ben onstage Saturday. (Source: Matt)

Chris Conrad speaks on Saturday. (Source: Matt)

Sunday, October 2, 2005

After gathering at the Libray Mall for great bluegrass music by the band Barleycorn, hundreds join the traditional march up State St. to Wisconsin's Capitol, for music by Groovulous Glove, making a third appearance on the Capitol steps, and all of Saturday's speakers minus Dr. Tod.

Ben does an interview before the march. (Source: Matt)

Marchers bypass construction in the last block of State St. on Sunday as they approach the State St. steps at the Capitol in downtown Madison. (Source: Matt)

The parade streams toward the Capitol Sunday. (Source: Matt)

Monday, October 3, 2005

A press conference supporting Rep. Underheim's bill is held in the Assembly Parlor adjacent to the Capitol's Assembly Chamber. The assembled media hears from myself, Jim Miller, Chris Conrad, Mikki Norris, J.F. Oschwald and a local patient. Following the press conference, supporters deliver 244 postcards supporting medical marijuana legislation to 44 lawmakers' offices. Madison Channel 15 later interviewed me live on their 5pm newscast.

Harvest Fest received lots of friendly and positive media coverage this year from a number of sources.

Medical Marijuana Advocates Rally
They Expect A Bill To Be Introduced Legalizing Its Prescribed Use In Wisconsin

Read article: click here
Wisconsin State Journal
Sunday, Oct. 2, 2005
Page 1D
(article included two photos, one of an event attendee and one of longtime event organizer Ben Masel.)

Advocates for legalizing marijuana for medical use in Wisconsin are rallying support at this weekend's Great Midwest Marijuana Harvest Festival for a bill they say is expected to be introduced by Rep. Gregg Underheim, R-Oshkosh.

Underheim, who chairs the Assembly's Health Committee, said in June that after talking with cancer survivors while he was receiving treatment for prostate cancer, he planned to introduce legislation to allow limited use of medical marijuana when prescribed by a doctor.

He could not be reached for comment on Saturday.

Local advocate Gary Storck said members of the Wisconsin Coalition for Safe Access plan to make an announcement at the Capitol on Monday, when they also will deliver cards signed by medical marijuana supporters to state legislators.

The cards cite surveys that found 80 percent of people in Wisconsin and across the country support access to medical marijuana.


Harvest Fest Gathers Annual Supporters
Read article: click here
Badger Herald
Monday, October 3, 2005

Thousands gathered at the University of Wisconsin's Library Mall to attend the 35th Annual Great Midwest Marijuana Harvest Festival this past weekend.

The event, organized by the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws ( NORML ), typically takes place beneath a well-known cloud of marijuana smoke. Though police are present during the annual event, enforcement of drug laws is not common.


Marijuana Rally Speakers Demand Decriminalization
Read article: click here
Daily Cardinal
Monday, October 3, 2005

Harvest Fest 2005 celebrated its 35th year in Madison this weekend, attracting activists and pot smokers from as far away as California.

Kicking off the festivities with a Friday-night fund-raiser hosted by the Cardinal Bar, festival attendees were treated to a host of bluegrass, jam and rock music Saturday and Sunday on Library Mall. Prominent speakers such as Keith Stroup, founder and former head of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, also bolstered support.


Hundreds Turn Out For Harvest Fest
Read article: click here
Core Weekly
Thursday, October 6, 2005
(Article accompanied by by 7 x 7 inch color photo captioned: "Several hundred people march up State St. to the Capitol Square Sunday, October 2 in support of marijuana reform.)

Attendees of the 35th annual Great Midwest Marijuana Harvest Festival are proud of the fact they smoke pot. Considering they were doing it in Madison, Wis., why wouldn't they be? Madison has long held a reputation for being a marijuana friendly metropolis. Our town was one of the first in the country to decriminalize minor cannabis possession and also one of the first to pass a medicinal marijuana law. Studies show we consume cannabis at a higher rate than most cities, and those capable of ranking these things say we smoke some of the highest quality bud on the planet. [snip]

State Bill Could Legalize Medical Marijuana
Read article: click here
Daily Cardinal
Tuesday, October 4, 2005


In 1980, a car crash left J.F. Oschwald with limited mobility and a spinal cord injury. He currently uses marijuana to prevent muscle spasms, allowing him to sleep calmly at night.

"For me, it's a matter of independence and being able to live at home without caretakers," Oschwald said.

The properties of marijuana can alleviate the symptoms of a variety of illnesses. It can be used to create an appetite, relieve pain and reduce the symptoms of glaucoma. Also, victims of these diseases can self-regulate how much they smoke, which is impossible with tablets.


Tuesday, November 22, 2005

History was made November 22 when a public hearing click here was held at the Capitol on medical marijuana legislation. While an informational hearing on medical marijuana had been held in 2001, it did not involve actual legislation. The last time a public hearing on legislation dates back at least 25 years.

I attended a hearing on July 31, 1979, and it was held in the same room, the GAR Hall, as the 2005 hearing. Another parallel was the presence of a legal federal medical marijuana patient. In 1979, it was the late Bob Randall, a glaucoma patient who successfully sued the federal government to obtain federal supplies of medical marijuana. Randall continued to receive federal medicinal pot up until his death in 2001, successfully preserving his vision.

In 2005, it was Irvin Rosenfeld. Rosenfeld, a Florida stockbroker, has recived 11 ounces of federal pot every 25 days since 1982, a total off 220 pounds in 23 years. He is the longest surviving patient of the 7 now grandfathered into the program.

The Health committee, chaired by the bill's sponsor, Rep. Gregg Underheim, heard from 17 supporters and only one opponent.

As 2005 winds down, state medical cannabis activists are hoping that committee members will vote AB=740 out of committee and on to a vote in the full Assembly.

1 August 1979: Wisconsin State Journal: Ex-alderman asks legal marijuana for medical use click here

One man who suffers from glaucoma and another who has cancer urged Wisconsin lawmakers Tuesday to make marijuana legal for individuals in their predicaments.

"It would be cruel not to pass this legislation for fear that people might misinterpret our intent," attorney Donald Murdoch, a former alderman from Madison's 2nd (near East Side) District, told an Assembly Committee. "Marijuana can help. I know from my own experience."

Murdoch said marijuana alleviated the nausea of cancer chemotherapy and radiation treatments he underwent after cancer was discovered in its early stages in his lymphatic system.

Robert Randall of Washington, D.C., said marijuana proved to be useful in controlling his glaucoma, a disease marked by high pressure in the eyeball that eventually leads to blindness.


State Rep. Stephen Leopold, D-Milwaukee, said he has a constituent who has glaucoma and obtains marijuana illegally for the condition.

"Right now he has to break the law to receive adequate treatment," said Leopold, who added that his constituent was unwilling to testify in behalf of the bill for fear of prosecution.


That constituent was me, then a 24 year old college student living in Milwaukee.

22 November 2005: Wisconsin State Journal: Medical Pot Bill Will Get Hearing
Legislators Will Hear From A Man Who Receives Marijuana In A Federal Health Study. click here

MAP: Medical Pot Bill Will Get Hearing click here

Every day for the past 23 years, Irv Rosenfeld has smoked up to a dozen marijuana cigarettes.

On probably every one of those days, someone, somewhere, was arrested for doing the same thing. But the government not only doesn't care about Rosenfeld's drug use; it's been his supplier.

One of just seven remaining patients in the federal government's "compassionate use" program, which provides marijuana for medical uses, Rosenfeld said the drug helps him cope with the excruciating pain caused by an estimated 200 benign bone tumors that daily poke at his muscles and veins.

Rosenfeld, 52, a stock broker from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., is the star witness in a planned hearing today on legislation to exempt patients with debilitating medical conditions from prosecution for using marijuana.


Saturday, December 10, 2005

AB-740 continued to receive space in state media, and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel published a fine OPED from Gina Dennik-Champion, the director of the Wisconsin Nurses Association. The WNA first went on record in support of giving patients legal access to therapeutic cannabis when they passed a resolution in 1999 click here.

19 December 2005: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: OPED: Nurses back medical marijuana click here

It is difficult for nurses to remain silent when patients are denied access to an effective medical treatment. That is why the Wisconsin Nurses Association supports the medical marijuana bill authored by Rep. Gregg Underheim (R-Oshkosh), known as AB 740.

In taking this position, we are squarely in the mainstream of the public health community. The American Nurses Association, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Public Health Association and the American Academy of HIV Medicine are just a few of the health care organizations that have acknowledged that marijuana can be a valuable treatment when used under medical supervision.


Posted by Gary at December 20, 2005 12:20 PM


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