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June 03, 2009

Waukesha Freeman: Medical marijuana debate to spark up soon

Posted by Gary Storck
Tuesday, June 2, 2009

My hometown paper, the Waukesha Freeman, interviewed me for this article last week. I had to hand transcribe the second half off the paper hard copy mailed to me by my friend Katie. Thanks Katie!

Source: Waukesha Freeman click here
Pubdate: 30 May 2009
Author: Joe Petrie

Medical marijuana debate to spark up soon

Supporters, detractors expect another fight over potential bill

WAUKESHA - An already controversial session of the state Legislature is about to spark another big fight.

Advocates for legalizing medical marijuana in Wisconsin are gearing up to get a bill passed in the Legislature that would open up the drug to those fighting severe diseases.

Gary Storck, spokesman for the group Is My Medicine Legal Yet? said they expect the bill to be introduced within the next six weeks and given the make up of the current ruling bodies, gives it a good chance of passing.

"We had a poll done in 2002 and the results found that over 80 percent of people statewide supported it," said Storck. "If the representatives and senators truly represent the people, they'll support this one thing that has been introduced into every session since 1997."

State Rep. Leah Vukmir, R-Wauwatosa, who has also worked as a registered nurse, has been a vocal opponent of the medical marijuana bill, saying it would only say it's OK for people to break the law.

"This is nothing more than a back door attempt to try and legalize marijuana," she said, "I took an oath of office to uphold the laws of the land and if I agreed to a bill like that, I'd be asking people to break the law because marijuana isn't a legal substance."

Medical marijuana is currently legal in 13 states and it has been gaining traction in the Great Lakes region.

In November, Michigan voters approved a medical marijuana bill making it legal there. This week the Illinois Senate also approved a similar bill and Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty vetoed a bill legalizing it there, gearing up for a fight with the Legislature.

Storck said the Wisconsin bill would be similar to the Michigan bill in that it would allow for people with severe debilitating diseases to possess and grow a small amount of marijuana for medical purposes.

One difference, he said, was that the Wisconsin law may also exempt veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Although supporters say there are an untold number of medicinal benefits to marijuana medication, Vukmir disagrees with that argument, saying other means of medication are available to patients now that can give the same effects of the drug.

The Freeman was unable to locate an area doctor willing to speak on record about claims made by either side of the debate by press time.

Past Wisconsin bills have gotten support from state Democrats, including Gov. Jim Doyle.

The state's first medical marijuana bill was signed by Republican Gov. Lee Sherman Dreyfus in 1982, which opened the door for more medical marijuana research.

E-mail: jpetrie@conleynet.com

This story appeared in The Waukesha Freeman on May 30, 2009.

Posted by Gary at June 3, 2009 04:20 PM

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