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December 30, 2007

A look back at Cannabis and Wisconsin in 2007: Part Two

Posted by Gary Storck
Sunday, December 30, 2007

Here is part two of my look at the year 2007 in cannabis in Wisconsin:

Sun 08 Jul 2007
Rare victory for the 4th Amendment in Wisconsin!

The Constitution and Bill of Rights have taken a savage beating in the war on some drugs. The 4th Amendment's ("a man's home is his castle") ancient prohibitions against illegal search and seizure have become so riddled with drug war exemptions that it now bears a strong resemblance to Swiss cheese.

Nevertheless, there was a rare win for the 4th Amendment in Milwaukee recently, as detailed in Dan Bice's (ex of "Spivak & Bice") No Quarter column in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

Read entire article: click here.

Tue 10 Jul 2007
Rep. Vukmir's staff to Jacki Rickert: GET OUT!

Rep. Vukmir's office summons Capitol Police to eject Wisconsin medical cannabis patients and family members

Due to intractable pain from Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, advanced reflex sympathetic dystrophy and other medical conditions, Jacki Rickert spends most of her time in a reclining position. It's a rare day that she spends much time out of bed, much less out of her apartment, and particularly, traveling to the Wisconsin State Capitol, as she did on Tuesday, July 10.

Read entire article: click here.

Wed 25 July 2007
Steve Kagen votes to arrest medical marijuana patients: John Gard would approve

The roll call vote in the Hinchey Amendment came down late this evening:

Final Vote Results For Roll Call 733

For: 165 (150 Dems, 15 Republicans)
Against: 262 (79 Dems, 183 Republicans)

The Democratic gains that brought them control of the House translated to only 2 additional votes over last year. As with prior years the Republican caucus mostly demonstrated that to be a good member of the GOP, you have to check your compassion at the door. But, it was apparently freshmen Democrats who doomed the Hinchey Amendment in the face of the near unanimous GOP opposition,

Read entire article: click here.

Sun 29 Jul 2007
Ben Masel sues over June 2006 Union Terrace pepper spraying and arrest

Tucked away in the Digest on Page C3 of Friday's Wisconsin State Journal was a small article reporting the filing of Ben Masel's suit over being pepper sprayed by UW cops while collecting signatures at the Union Terrace in June 2006 for his U.S. Senate campaign against Sen. Herb Kohl.

Read entire article: click here.

Thu 9 Aug 2007
Letter: Bridges fail while we focus on marijuana

The Minnesota bridge tragedy was preventable. Had the bridge been properly maintained and replaced when it became structurally deficient, the collapse and all its accompanying trauma would not have happened. The problem is, bridge safety was not a priority, but targeting people for arrest and punishment for possessing prohibited plants is.

Read entire article: click here.

Sun 12 Aug 2007
Dan Bice No Quarter Column: More deputies skitter under microscope

In early July, I passed along a column by the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel's investigative reporter, Dan Bice, about how a cannabis search in Milwaukee had been judged illegal click here. I called it a victory for the 4th Amendment, but this new column from Bice reports it was more complicated than that. Why not just tax and regulate it and free up the manpower to make our streets safer?

Read entire article: click here.

Sun 19 Aug 2007
37th Annual Great Midwest Marijuana Harvest Festival is just around the corner!

Summer's waning days in Madison means that Harvest Fest must be just around the corner. The 37th Annual Great Midwest Marijuana Harvest Festival will be held the weekend of Fri-Sun October 5, 6 & 7, 2007. The schedule appears below!

Read entire article: click here.

Mon 03 Sep 2007
Milwaukee Summerfest pot arrests dropping?

Since there is currently no organized NORML chapter in Milwaukee, I’ve been watching the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel for cannabis related news and found this report on Summerfest arrests. Daily arrest figures were also posted via MPD press releases during this year’s run. As a former Milwaukee resident in the late 70’s and early 80’s, it appears today’s Summerfest is much kinder and gentler to cannabis users as long as they are discrete. Back in the day, it seemed as if pot smokers were being arrested and jailed in droves. The majority of 2007 arrests were for underage drinking. Only about 6 folks per day were arrested for cannabis, and as the article below notes, most arrests occurred on the rocks along the lakeshor

Read entire article: click here.

Tue 4 Sep 2007
Journal-Sentinel's "Off the Cuffs" column makes light of medical cannabis patient's plight

Milwaukee's Journal-Sentinel includes a feature called "Off the Cuffs," described as, "Off the Cuffs chronicles small crimes, follies and foibles. It is compiled from police reports around the Milwaukee area".

Read entire article: click here.

Wed 12 Sep 2007
September 18th at the Wisconsin Capitol: Medical Cannabis Quest for Justice

Tuesday, September 18, 2007 marks the 10th anniversary of the date that Jacki Rickert, accompanied by 15 other medical cannabis patients and a support crew, reached the Wisconsin State Capitol after a weeklong wheelchair march from Mondovi WI, the 1997 Wisconsin "Journey for Justice".

Read entire article: click here.


Mon 17 Sep 2007
Jacki Rickert Medical Marijuana Act To Be Introduced Sept. 18

Below is the press release from Is My Medicine Legal YET? announcing the new Wisconsin medical cannabis bill being announced Tuesday at the Capitol!

Read entire article: click here.


Tue 18 Sep 2007
Quest for Justice recap

The Quest for Justice came off well today. While health issues and other snafus sliced the number of patients in wheelchairs down to a few, the "Last Mile" was well received as it made its way up State St, even garnering a standing ovation from a pair of older couples dining at an outdoor cafe.

Read entire article: click here.

Tue 25 Sep 2007
Badger Herald Editorial: A higher tolerance

The University of Wisconsin-Madison's Badger Herald follows up their great article about the Quest for Justice click here with this nice editorial supporting the Jacki Rickert Medical Marijuana Act.

Read entire article: click here.


Thu 27 Sep 2007
Letter: Capital Times: It's time for state residents to actively support medical marijuana bill

Yes, it really has been ten years since I had my first letter to the editor about medical cannabis published, and ten years since the WI Journey for Justice.

Read entire article: click here.

Thu 27 Sep 2007
Mondovi Herald News: Medical Marijuana Bill Named For Mondovi Resident

With the publication of this IMMLY-submitted article in the Mondovi Herald News, the Jacki Rickert Medical Marijuana Act (JRMMA) today received notice in both Madison and Mondovi newspapers on practically the same day.

Read entire article: click here.

Sun 6 Oct 2007
Wisconsin State Journal: Medical marijuana gets heavy support

Harvest Fest 37 is going well so far, with record-breaking temperatures and sunny skies adding to the mellow vibes. There were so many smiles, beaming from attendees or just those passing by, including a bride and groom from a passing wedding party who briefly took the stage.

Medical marijuana patients were out in force too, with wheelchairs, walkers and scooters common sights on the Library Mall. The Wisconsin State Journal noticed the patient presence with this article by their medical/science reporter David Wahlberg.

Read entire article: click here.

Mon 8 Oct 2007
Badger Herald: Marchers press for legal marijuana

The Badger Herald presents a look at Harvest Fest 37.

Estimates by organizers and others put the parade count as larger than last year. Little Marsh Overflow, who played on the Capitol steps both years, thought it was at least 20% larger. Record breaking temperatures and mostly sunny skies were a stark contrast to some recent Harvest Fests with chilly temps and even snow flurries. The last 3 years have been very comfortable.

Read entire article: click here.

Tue 9 Oct 2007
Jacki Rickert Medical Marijuana Act final cosponsor total

Rep. Mark Pocan's office reports that a total of 11 Assembly Representatives and zero State Senators joined him and Rep. Frank Boyle in sponsoring LRB-2455/1 - Jacki Rickert Medical Marijuana Act.

Read entire article: click here.

Wed 10 Oct 2007
Wisconsin's Fox Valley Scene's October issue: Is My Medicine Legal YET?

Weeks before Harvest Fest, I was contacted by Jim Lundstrom from the Fox Valley Scene click here, who said they wanted to focus on Harvest Fest and cannabis/hemp in Wisconsin for their October issue.

The result is a set of great articles, with the cover of the issue showing a small potted pot plant and the question, "Is My Medicine Legal YET?"

Read entire article: click here.

Tue 16 Oct 2007
Wisconsin Hemp Order: This Thursday evening in Ripon WI

Folks from outside this little isle of cannabis sanity that is Madison often say something like, "Why are there no cannabis related events outside of Madison?"

There sometimes are, like this unique event coming to Ripon this Thursday night:

Read entire article: click here.

Tue 23 Oct 2007
California physician, cannabinologist David Bearman MD to speak at Escape Coffee on Nov. 12

The upcoming informational hearing on medical marijuana by the Wisconsin State Senate's Health and Human Services Committee, chaired by Sen. Jon Erpenbach (D-Middleton), on Nov. 14, will bring three leading experts on medical cannabis to Madison.

Read entire article: click here.

Wed 24 Oct 2007
WI Assembly Speaker Huebsch assigns medical marijuana bill to Leah Vukmir's Health committee to die

I like to give people the benefit of a doubt. Just because past Republican Assembly Speakers including the morally bankrupt John Gard, the disgraced, convicted yet still unpunished Scott "Scooter" Jensen and even old Ben Brancel, have all assigned medical marijuana legislation to committees where they were assured the bill would die doesn't mean one shouldn't hold out hope that some enlightenment may have occurred.

Read entire article: click here.

Sat 3 Nov 2007
County Marijuana Ordinances: Will Waukesha catch up to this quiet trend?

The news that Waukesha County is seriously contemplating a county marijuana ordinance click here inspired me to research how common these county ordinances have become in Wisconsin.

Read entire article: click here.

Tue 6 Nov 2007
WI State Senate Committee Hearing on medical marijuana to be held Wed. Nov. 14th

It has been a long time, over 25 years, since any kind of hearing on medical marijuana was held in the State Senate. Next Wednesday, November 14, 2007, State Sen. Jon Erpenbach will hold a hearing on medical marijuana in the Senate Committee he chairs, "Health, Human Services, Insurance, and Job Creation."

Read entire article: click here.

Wed 7 Nov 2007
LECTURE: Cannabis and Cannabinoids in 21st Century Medicine: Medical Marijuana in the Clinic

Thanks to Dr. Bearman extending his stay several days, he is now scheduled to give a lecture at the UW-Madison Medical School on Tuesday, Nov. 13, the day before the hearing.

Read entire article: click here.

Wed 15 Nov 2007
Badger Herald: Senate hearing on medical marijuana turns emotional

The Badger Herald continues their excellent reporting of the medical cannabis issue with this report on Wednesday's hearing.

Read entire article: click here.

Sat 17 Nov 2007
Video of WI State Senate Committee MMJ Hearing, Dr. Bearman UW Med School presentation, now online

Video records of two of three of the medical cannabis events in Madison from Nov. 12-14 are now available online in video and audio.

Read entire article: click here.

Mon 19 Nov 2007
IMMLY to Rep. Scott Suder: Provide Details Of So-Called "Loopholes" In Medical Marijuana Bill

Below is a press release from Is My Medicine Legal YET? publicly calling on Rep. Scott Suder (R-Abbotsford) to reveal what he terms are "loopholes" in the Assembly Bill 550, The Jacki Rickert Medical Marijuana Act, and state his proposal for a workable bill, if he truly has one.

Read entire article: click here.

Mon 19 Nov 2007
Appleton Post Crescent Editorial: Medical marijuana law deserves consideration

The Appleton Post Crescent today editorialized in favor of AB 550, The Jacki Rickert Medical Marijuana Act. This is the first time in a long time the issue has been mentioned in the P-C. It's great to see one of Wisconsin's leading newspapers, from a rather conservative area, endorse this legislation. The mention of testimony at last week's Senate hearing illustrates the value of bringing in experts to help dispel the hysteria and lies that scare politicians into continuing to withhold this gentle medicine from those who need it today.

Read entire article: click here.

Wed 28 Nov 2007
"Society has changed" -- Waukesha County decriminalizes first-time marijuana possession cases

Waukesha County has finally joined the ranks of Wisconsin counties that have adopted decriminalization ordinances. The 27-4 vote by the County Board removed one of the last vestiges of the harsh enforcement practiced by former Waukesha County District Attorney Paul Bucher and his predecessors. As most of the state's most populous counties adopted county ordinances, Waukesha County clung to treating minor cannabis possession cases as crimes. This vote finally brings the county into step with most of the rest of the state, which has already quietly decriminalized minor possession at the county and municipal levels.

Read entire article: click here.

Tue 11 Dec 2007
Rep. Scott Suder speaks with WI medical cannabis patients, agrees to keep talking

With the state legislature both in session and in special session today, it was a good day to visit the Capitol. Despite a snowstorm that left the Capitol dome snow topped, most if not all of the 132 state lawmakers were in the building under that dome.

Read entire article: click here.

Thu 20 Dec 2007
Wisconsin State Journal: Letter: Approve medical marijuana for pain

Here is my latest letter in the State Journal, just in time for the Holidays! In the print edition, it appeared on Page B2, above the fold, under a larger than 5 x 7 photo of CA medical cannabis activists protesting in LA on Oct. 11, with both the picture and letter on a darker background, and taking up most of the top of the page, with the bold title shouting out almost as if it were an admonition from the State Journal itself!

Read entire article: click here.

Conclusions, updates and a look ahead to 2008:

The bulk of Ben Masel's federal lawsuit against the University of Wisconsin over his arrest and pepperspraying for circulating nomination papers for the Democratic nomination for US Senate was dismissed in December, leaving only excessive force complaints against two UW police officers. An appeal is planned.

The year 2007 saw a number of positive developments for cannabis law reform in Wisconsin.

More counties and municipalities adopted local ordinances allowing the option of settling cases involving possession of small amounts of cannabis and paraphernalia as civil infractions. Amounts ranged from 8 grams in Manitowoc to 25 grams in Dane County, where DA Brian Blanchard initiated a new policy in early 2007 where all cases involving paraphernalia or less than 25 grams of herb were to be settled as county ordinance violations.

Assembly Bill 146, which would create a committee to study the uses of Industrial Hemp, is expected to receive a floor vote this session. According to the State Legislative Reference Bureau, the bill, if passed, requires the committee to review literature related to industrial hemp, to evaluate the economic opportunities for this state that could result from producing and using industrial hemp, and to report its findings and recommendations to the legislature.

Harvest Fest 37, held October 5, 6 & 7, 2007 went very well with temperatures in the mid-80's and an infectious mellow vibe that left anyone coming within 20 feet with a huge smile. Sunday's parade was both boisterous and joyful, and the entire event felt as if a bubble of freedom had formed over its locations in downtown Madison. The festival inches closer to its fifth decade with the 38th Annual Great Midwest Marijuana Harvest Festival, planned for October 3, 4 & 5, 2008 at all the usual locations.

2007 was a year of great progress on medical cannabis in Wisconsin. Early in the year, State Sen. Jon Erpenbach (D-Middleton), announced plans to hold an informational hearing on medical marijuana in the Senate Health committee he began chairing when Democrats regained control of the State Senate in Nov. 2006. The hearing, held Nov. 14, was the first state senate hearing on medical marijuana in over 25 years, since before passage of medical marijuana legislation in 1981. That legislation, signed into law by Republican Gov. Lee Sherman Dreyfus in 1982, was rendered symbolic by federal regulations.

The hearing featured testimony from two physicians and federal patient George McMahon as well as patients and one non-credible opponent.

McMahon had originally been scheduled to join Jacki Rickert on Sept. 18 as she and a crew of patients and supporters commemorated the 1997 Journey for Justice that she led with a 2007 "Quest for Justice" including a "Last Mile" march and roll up State St. to the Capitol. Later in the Capitol's Senate Parlor, State Reps. Mark Pocan and Frank Boyle announced introduction of the Jacki Rickert Medical Marijuana Act.

While the act gained bipartisan support, Assembly Speaker Mike Huebsch (R-West Salem) joined a long list of Republican Assembly Speakers who defied the will of the people of Wisconsin and assigned a medical marijuana bill to a committee chaired by an opponent who had already promised to block further progress, in this case, Assembly Health and Healthcare Reform, chaired by Rep. Leah Vukmir (R-Wauwatosa). Vukmir had in April 2007 famously proclaimed in the WI State Journal that the bill would not receive a hearing. In July, her office called Capitol police to eject Jacki and other patients.

But, while this all too familiar situation looks bleak, there is hope that progress is still possible. Rep. Scott Suder (R-Abbotsford), an opponent who claimed the Jacki Rickert Bill contained loopholes promised to talk to Rep. Pocan after meeting with patients outside the Assembly chambers. While Rep. Suder has not apparently yet met with Rep. Pocan, we hope he was sincere in both that promise and another to meet with patients.

The best hope for the "Jacki Rickert Medical Marijuana Act" at this time is citizen pressure. The bill will die in committee without a hearing. The bill's future lies in the hands of Assembly Speaker Mike Huebsch and the GOP Assembly leadership. Rep. J.A. "Doc" Hines (R-Oxford) has promised to give the bill a hearing pm his Assembly Public Health committee, if it were assigned there. Either the bill needs to be transferred to his committee, or Rep. Vukmir needs to reconsider and give the bill an open mind.

State medical cannabis supporters should call Speaker Huebsch and ask that the bill be moved to Rep. Hines' committee and they should call Rep. Vukmir and request that she put aside her bias and give the bill a hearing. This issue has over 80% support statewide and it is a slap in the face even to what passes for democracy these days to allow one close-minded representative to crush the hopes of patients and families for legal access to medical cannabis.

Medical cannabis patients and supporters are also planning to again vigil outside the Assembly Chambers during Gov. Jim Doyle's upcoming State of the State address, to be held in early January, to call upon the governor and lawmakers to make passage of the Jacki Rickert Medical Marijuana Act a priority in 2008. Details will be posted on this blog.

Beyond that, it appears a medical marijuana ballot initiative will be before Michigan voters in Nov. 2008. In Minnesota and Illinois, medical cannabis legislation is proceeding in state legislatures. If Wisconsin voters can cast out at least 3 or more Assembly Republicans next November, it is my opinion that next session may be the one. The downside of that is many patients will suffer and die in pain in the interim, joining those who have already been denied this therapy for decades. That is unacceptable, and the people of Wisconsin need to translate their overwhelming support for medical marijuana into action by demanding state lawmakers pass AB 550, the Jacki Rickert Medical Marijuana Act, this session!

Posted by Gary at December 30, 2007 05:10 PM

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