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November 27, 2005

Madison weekly: Medical Marijuana

Posted by Gary Storck
Sunday, November 27, 2005

Today's editions of the Appleton Post Crescent and Green Bay Gazette included led off their "Madison Weekly" wrap-up of Capitol happenings with a short report on the Health Committee hearing:

November 27, 2005

Madison weekly: What's happening at the state capital

By Ben Jones

The Wisconsin Nurses Association testified in support of a medical marijuana bill sponsored by Rep. Gregg Underheim, R-Oshkosh, at an Assembly committee hearing Tuesday.

Assembly Bill 740 provides a "medical necessity defense" for marijuana-related prosecutions and property seizures.

"It is difficult for nurses to remain silent when seriously ill patients are denied access to an effective medical treatment," Gina Dennik-Champion, executive director of the nurses association, said in a news release. "We support this legislation because there is medical research that indicates that marijuana can serve as a form of medical treatment for specific health problems such as nausea, vomiting, pain, and glaucoma when other treatments fail."

Posted by Gary at 10:37 PM | Comments (1)

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 11:05 AM | Comments (0)

November 17, 2005

Federal Medical Marijuana Patient Irv Rosenfeld scheduled to testify at AB 740 hearing

Posted by Gary Storck
November 17, 2005

One of 7 living Americans who annually receive 7.5 pounds of U.S. Government supplied medical marijuana is scheduled to testify at the Tuesday Nov. 22 public hearing for AB 740 at the Capitol. The hearing of the Assembly Health Committee, chaired by the bill's sponsor Rep. Gregg Underheim (R-Oshkosh), is scheduled to begin at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday.

I plan to testify along with Jacki Rickert and other Wisconsin patients and advocates. Jacki was approved for the same program as Irv in 1991, but the program was suspended by Bush the elder and then closed to new participants. The program began in 1976 when Washington D.C. glaucoma patient Robert Randall sued the federal government. With the help of Randall and my U.S. Senators Gaylord Nelson and Bill Proxmire and my congressman Henry Reuss, but was unable to find a physician willing to deal with the buteaucratic red tape.

This historic hearing is the first public hearing on medical marijuana in Wisconsin's legislature for at least 25 years. Robert Randall himself spoke at a hearing held on July 31, 1979. Read a Wisconsin State Journal article click here. I was the anonymous constituent with glaucoma whose representative, Steve Leopold, spoke on their behalf in the article. I was just 24 back then and nervous about testifying. This time, at 50, and having medicated my glaucoma with cannabis for over 33 years and counting,I'm ready.

Wisconsin lawmakers passed a medical marijuana bill in 1981 by wide margins, and Gov. Lee Sherman Dreyfus signed it into law in 1982. But, patients were immediately back at square one because federal authorities refused to supply the therapeutic research program created by the bill with federal supplies of medical marijuana from the same stash Rosenfeld's comes from. And since the feds have a monopoly, glaucoma and cancer patients covered by the bill found there was little to celebrate outside of the symbolic victory.

Three other patients in the program, George McMahon, Barbara Douglass and Elvy Musikka, have visited the Capitol. McMahon and Douglass at the end of Jacki Rickert's Journey For Justice in September 1997, and Elvy spoke at Harvest Fest in Madison on the State St. steps in October 2002. Robert Randall passed on in 2001, never having lost his sight to glaucoma. Elvy is one of 2 remaining glaucoma patients in the program.

Here is a press release from the grouop, Patients Out of Time, about Irv's latest milestone of medical marijuana. I'm on their advisory board and looking forward to their next conference April 2006 in Santa Barbara, CA.


Patients Out of Time
Al Byrne
1472 Fish Pond Road
Howardsville, VA 24562
Phone: (434)263-4484
Fax: (434)263-6753

220 Pounds and Still Smoking

On November 20, 2005 Irv Rosenfeld, a Ft. Lauderdale stockbroker, will have smoked 220 pounds of US government marijuana/cannabis over a 23 year period.

The longest using patient in the Federal Governments Compassionate Use Program, with only 7 US citizens being shown such compassion, Irv has benefited from this medicine without negative side effects of any type.

"The US government has never had a moment's hesitation about providing him and the other six US citizens this medicine. The researchers at NIDA knew from the outset of this program that cannabis was non-toxic to humans and of significant benefit for the health of some individuals", said, Al Byrne, co-founder of the national educational charity, called Patients Out of Time. They knew, because all of the more than two-dozen studies conducted by countries around the globe, including the US, have come to that conclusion.

"Chronic Cannabis Use in the Compassionate Investigational New Drug Programm: An Examination of the Benefits and Adverse Effects of Legal Clinical Cannabis" by E. Russo, MD and M. L. Mathre, RN confirmed that for four of the federal patients studied including Irv (the others wished to remain annonymous) the government was right, Please see www.medicalcannabis.com for the complete study.

Irv is both a teacher and competitor in the sport of sailing for the handicapped.

Posted by Gary at 04:11 PM | Comments (0)

November 15, 2005

Public Hearing set for AB 740 Wisconsin Medical Marijuana Bill Tuesday Nov. 22

Posted by Gary Storck
November 15, 2005

Rep. Gregg Underheim has scheduled a public hearing on AB 740, the bipartisan medical marijuana bill he sponsored.

Assembly Bill 740 has been scheduled for a public hearing by Committee on Health in the Assembly. Date/time: November 22, 2005 at 10:00 AM. Location: 417 North (GAR Hall).
Bill History: click here

Relating to: medical use of marijuana, requiring the exercise of rule-making authority, and providin...

If you are a patient, family member or caregiver of a patient, a health care professional or other interested party, you should plan to attend and testify.

Posted by Gary at 10:50 AM | Comments (0)

November 11, 2005

AB 740 Amended

Posted by Gary Storck
November 10, 2005

The mysterious appearance (click here) of language protecting acquisition and medicinal cultivation by patients and caregivers in Assembly Bill 740 was explained when the language was removed in an amendment Nov. 4.

11-04. A. Assembly substitute amendment 1 offered by Representative Underheim ............................... 579
(Source: History of Assembly Bill 740 click here)

The bill apparently still contains and affirmative defense for acquisition and cultivation. Also amended by Rep. Underheim was the amount of medicine a patient may possess. In the initial version, the language was "a reasonable amount". In the amended bill, the amount is specified as:

961.01 (1g) “Adequate supply” means an amount of tetrahydrocannabinols that does not exceed what would be contained in 2.5 ounces of usable marijuana.
961.01 (21g) “Usable marijuana” means the leaves, the flowers, extracted from the leaves and flowers, and every compound, manufacture, derivative, mixture, or preparation of the leaves, flowers, or resin, include the seeds, stalks, or roots of plants of the genus Cannabis.

While it is disappointing to patients and supporters that this protection has been removed before the bill even has a hearing, the good news from Rep. Undeerheim's office is that a hearing in his Assembly Health committee is still on tap, perhaps later this month (November).

In the meantime Madison NORML activists are continuing the postcard campaign initiated at Harvest Fest with a new postcard flyer with a postcard for both Assembly and Senate members. Download a PDF file of the postcard click here., and cards will also be available for pickup in Madison very soon.

Madison NORML/Wisconsin Coalition for Safe Access members along with Jim Miller played mailman at the Capitol Monday October 3, delivering 244 cards to 40 plus offices.

As we accumulate more signed cards, another delivery day will be scheduled soon. We are also coordinating with patients, caregivers, health care professionals and other parties interested in testifying at the public hearing or assisting in other ways. Please join us at a meeting or contact us via the contact link at the bottom of the Madison NORML home page click here.

Posted by Gary at 09:31 PM | Comments (0)