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February 27, 2006

ALERT: Please ask for committee vote on AB-740

Posted by Gary Storck
Monday, February 27, 2006

It's been over 3 months since Rep. Gregg Underheim held a public hearing for his medical marijuana bill AB-740 in his Assembly Health Committee, yet the bill has not been voted on.

Rep. Underheim's office says it's because they aren't sure they have the votes to pass AB-740 out of committee. Despite compelling testimony from health care professionals, patients and caregivers and stacks of studies demonstrating the medicinal efficacy of cannabis, most committee members have either been silent or in the case of some Republicans, voiced outright hostility. But, the public deserves to know where the committee stands. Some very ill people traveled long distances to testify before the committee how medical cannabis helps them. It is the committee's duty to fairly weigh the evidence and vote the bill up or down.

As he is not seeking re-election, this will be Rep. Underheim's last chance to move medical marijuana legislation in Wisconsin. For patients, there is no stepping down - their only out is death.

Rep. Underheim gave hope to sick people and their families by championing this issue and sponsoring legislation. But it should not end here.

Wisconsinites overwhelmingly support giving patients legal access to medical marijuana. As taxpayers and voters, they deserve to know whether the Assembly Health committee agrees.

The Health Committee is next scheduled to meet at 10 am on Tuesday Feb. 28, and there will be other opportunities to vote before March 9.

Please call Rep. Underheim and members of the Health Committee and request a committee vote on AB-740 as soon as possible.

Wisconsin Coalition for Safe Access
-------------------

Contact Info for the committee:

Representative Gregg Underheim rep.underheim@legis.state.wi.us
(608) 266-2254

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

Posted by Gary at 12:44 PM | Comments (0)

Wisconsin Coalition for Safe Access: RELEASE: Medical Marijuana Activists Ask Rep. Underheim For Committee Vote On AB-740

Posted by Gary Storck
Monday, February 27, 2006

There has been no action in committee on AB-740, the medical marijuana bill sponsored by Rep. Gregg Underheim, since he held a hearing for the bill in his Assembly Health Committee Nov. 22 click here.

With the bill's chances of even getting a committee vote looking slim, Wisconsin medical cannabis supporters are today calling on Rep. Underheim to hold a vote before the bill officially dies March 9.

Wisconsin Coalition for Safe Access

Is My Medicine Legal YET?

Wisconsin NORML

Madison NORML

For Immediate Release: Monday, February 27, 2006

MEDICAL MARIJUANA ACTIVISTS ASK REP. UNDERHEIM FOR COMMITTEE VOTE ON AB-740

Wisconsin medical marijuana activists are calling on Rep. Gregg Underheim to set a vote in his Assembly Health Committee on the medical marijuana bill he authored.

With the bill effectively dead March 9 and Underheim not seeking reelection, supporters want the bill to get an up or down vote in committee. "Seriously ill patients traveled great distances to publicly share how cannabis eases their pain. The committee has had over 3 months to weigh the testimony and written evidence and make up their minds. It is time for them to go on record, for or against, so their constituents, the people of Wisconsin, know where they stand," said Gary Storck, a glaucoma patient and spokesman for Is My Medicine Legal YET? and the Wisconsin Coalition for Safe Access, two Wisconsin-based groups that advocates legal access to medical cannabis.

"The Coalition is extremely grateful to Rep. Underheim for his efforts and don't want him to think they would have been in vain if his committee failed to pass AB-740", Storck said. "But unlike Rep. Underheim, those of us who live that long will be back at the Capitol again next session, health permitting. 80% of Wisconsinites want patients to have this as a legal option. They deserve to know if their representatives are truly representing them, particularly in this election year."

For further information contact Gary Storck, 608.241.8922, cell 608.217.4136, gstorck@immly.org.

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Posted by Gary at 10:49 AM | Comments (0)

February 23, 2006

Tasered man who caught fire gets prison time

Posted by Gary Storck
Thursday, February 23, 2006

Here's an article from tomorrow's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that illustrates the counterproductive nature of prohibition.

It would be a lot better use of our finite criminal justice resources to concentrate on real crime rather than low-level drug offenses. Overuse of force as detailed in this case raises obvious civil rights issues, and has a negative effect on police-community relations. In a more sensible world, this incident would never have had to happen in the first place. With a civil suit apparently on the way, taxpayers will be paying an even higher price for the lack of policies that reduce the harm of substance use, not exacerbate them.

From the Feb. 24, 2006 editions of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Author: Associated Press

TASERED MAN WHO CAUGHT FIRE GETS PRISON TIME

Kenosha - A man whose head caught fire when police simultaneously zapped him with pepper spray and a Taser gun during his arrest last summer faces prison time after being sentenced on a drug charge in the same incident.

Kenosha County Circuit Judge Anthony Milisauskas, who sentenced Lloyd King this week, said the fire "has nothing to do with the resisting charges or the obstruction or whatever happened that day in Kenosha."

King, 28, of Racine, was arrested Aug. 1 during a traffic stop. Police said he put drugs in his mouth, resisted arrest and wouldn't spit out the marijuana he was chewing after being handcuffed.

When officers tried to subdue him, the Taser charge ignited the pepper spray and set his head on fire. Police said at the time that using both techniques at the same time violated departmental policy.

King, who was treated for minor burns to the head and torso, has a pending negligence claim against the city - a first step in a possible lawsuit.

He was released from prison five months before the incident, having been sentenced in a 2002 drug case to three years in prison, plus two years extended supervision and five years' probation.

In a plea deal earlier this month, King pleaded no contest to possession of marijuana, and charges of cocaine possession, resisting arrest and battery to an officer were dismissed.

The judge revoked his supervised release and sentenced him to 14 months and 12 days in prison, with credit for 205 days already served. He also must serve another five years of probation ordered in 2002.

Information from: Kenosha News, http:// www.kenoshacounty.com

Posted by Gary at 11:43 PM | Comments (0)

February 21, 2006

NORML: Cannabinoids Enhance Analgesic Effects Of Anti-Inflammatory Drugs, Study Says

Posted by Gary Storck
February 21, 2006

NORML's Weekly News Bulletin click here, always a great source for the latest developments in cannabis, contained an item about medical cannabis in the February 16, 2006 edition.

Studies have already shown a synergistic effect between opioids and cannabis click here, allowing patients to use less opiate medication but gain superior relief. The new study is more good news for chronic pain sufferers -- cannabis also works synergistically with NSAID pain relievers like ibuprofen.

Cannabinoids Enhance Analgesic Effects Of Anti-Inflammatory Drugs, Study Says

February 16, 2006 - Ankara, Turkey

Ankara, Turkey: Cannabinoids, when administered in combination with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), produce a synergistic analgesic effect, according to preclinical data published in the February issue of the journal Anesthesia & Analgesia.

A research team at the Trakya University in Turkey investigated the analgesic interaction between cannabinoids and NSAIDS in mice. "Analysis showed additive interactions between [cannabinoids] and [NSAIDS] when they were co-administered systematically in an inflammatory visceral pain model," investigators concluded. "The combination of cannabinoids and NSAIDS may have utility in the pharmacotherapy of pain."

Currently, a research team at the San Francisco General Hospital in California is evaluating the effectiveness of inhaled cannabis when used as an adjunctive therapy in combination with opioids to treat persistent cancer pain. The findings of that clinical trial are expected to be published later this year.

For more information, please contact Paul Armentano, NORML Senior Policy Analyst, at (202) 483-5500. Full text of the Turkish study, "The additive antinociceptive interaction between WIN 55,212-2, a cannabinoid agonist, and Ketorolac," appears in the journal Anesthesia & Analgesia.

Posted by Gary at 10:14 AM | Comments (0)

February 07, 2006

Is assisted suicide a good idea? Risser says yes

Posted by Gary Storck
Tuesday, February 6, 2006

Is assisted suicide a good idea? Risser says yes

As the longest serving legislator in the Wisconsin legislature, Fred Risser’s name is often preceded by the term “longtime”. The truth is, it has been a very long time since Risser was first elected to the Assembly in 1956 and to the Senate seat he still holds today, in 1962.

Risser’s longevity is not due to overwhelming popularity, but rather the demographics of the district. As the 26th district traditionally votes for Democrats and progressives, there are never any serious Republican contenders. Attempts by other Democrats to take “Longtime” out in the primary have failed because of low turnout, giving Risser the seat for as long as he wants it, by default.

While a reliable progressive on most issues, Risser’s pet issues have not always matched the desires of his constituents. The most glaring dissent from the wishes of his constituents is that of medical marijuana.

While poling has found that nearly 92% of Dane County residents support legalizing medical marijuana click here, Risser has refused to lead on the issue. The last time Risser cosponsored a medical marijuana bill was 1979. His position today is that he is so anti-tobacco smoking that he cannot sponsor medical marijuana legislation because medicinal pot is sometimes smoked. Oh, he’ll vote for it if it comes before him, he claims, but he refuses to be play offense on behalf of sick and dying constituents and their families, because of his personal prejudices.

Risser summed things up perfectly in a discussion I had with him after an appearance at the Senior Center in Madison in 2000, two campaigns ago. After I delivered an impassioned pitch for his support on medical cannabis, noting how Wisconsin patient Jacki Rickert’s home has been raided that year for 10 hours and her medicine confiscated click here, Risser’s response was an arrogant, “there are a hundred bills more important to me than medical marijuana".

Apparently, one of the hundred is assisted suicide, based on Risser’s repeated sponsorship of assisted suicide legislation and the occasional OPED supporting it like the one he recently had published in the Wisconsin State Journal click here.

But what Risser clearly doesn’t get is that patients should first have the option of legal access to medical marijuana before even considering ending their lives. Cannabis therapy can restore dignity and improve the quality of life of terminally ill patients. Meanwhile, Senator Risser seems to be OK with a status quo that prohibits a natural therapy that can prolong life, while advocating patients should have the legal option to choose to end their lives with potentially lethal, but legal substances.

Assisted Suicide

Oregon's Law Withstood A Court Challenge, And A Right-to-die Bill Has Been Introduced In Wisconsin. Is It A Good Idea?

In Favor

A Good Law Can Help A Person Die With Dignity
Wisconsin State Journal :: FORUM :: B1
Sunday, February 5, 2006

SEN. FRED RISSER

Terminally-ill people cannot choose an alternative to death. The issue is whether those who are mentally competent and know that their death is imminent should have the freedom to decide when and how to die.

Those opposed to any legislation on this subject argue that laws authorizing death with dignity could lead us down the "slippery slope" to euthanasia or result in undue social or economic pressure on the elderly, poor or vulnerable of our society to prematurely end their lives.

The answer is to regulate against such potential abuses, not shut off the rights and desires of competent, terminally-ill adults.

This is not a new idea. It is patterned after a law that has been in effect in the state of Oregon since 1998. A majority of the voters in Oregon supported "Death with Dignity" in a state ballot initiative in November 1994 by 51 percent to 49 percent. This despite strong opposition by the American Medical Association, the Catholic Church, and both the Republican and Democratic candidates for governor.

Implementation of the law was delayed until 1998, when a second referendum was submitted to the voters of Oregon. This time it was approved by an even wider margin of 60 percent to 40 percent. During the first seven years of the law, a total of 208 people elected to end their lives under its provisions.

I have introduced legislation to allow a physician to comply with a patient's desire for a death with dignity in the most limited and narrow of circumstances.

The proposal contains stringent safeguards. Only a mentally competent adult who has been judged terminally ill by two physicians may voluntarily make a written, retractable request to his or her attending physician for medication to end his or her life in a humane and dignified manner.

The requester must first make the request orally and then again in writing. There must then be a further oral request to the doctor, after which the doctor may write the prescription for the requested medication. The physician may or may not be present when the requester self-administers the medication.

If, in the opinion of the attending physician or the consulting physician, a requester may be suffering from a psychiatric or psychological disorder that causes impaired judgment, the requester will be referred for review and counseling to a psychiatrist or psychologist who will determine and certify in writing that judgment has not been impaired by such a disorder before a request for medication is fulfilled.

In 1990, the U.S. Supreme Court recognized a constitutional right to forego unwanted medical treatment. Living wills, which allow competent adults to state their preferences on whether or not to permit the use of life-sustaining procedures in the event of terminal illnesses, are currently authorized in 47 states and the District of Columbia.

More recently, the U.S. Supreme Court, in Gonzales v. Oregon, upheld rulings by two lower federal courts which in essence held that the regulation of medical practice generally belongs to the states and refused to strike down the Oregon law.

Society must continue to evaluate and to address related issues, such as pain control, health care for all, and treatment of depression and the social isolation of persons who are older or disabled. Aid in dying must not be an alternative to quality home care, or access to a licensed hospice. Individual choice and the desire to die peacefully are the foremost reasons in support of "Death with Dignity."

Posted by Gary at 11:06 AM | Comments (0)