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June 29, 2006

Wisconsin congressman David Obey talks the talk on mmj in Hinchey debate

Posted by Gary Storck
Thursday, June 29, 2006

I've criticized Rep. David Obey (D-Wausau) in the past for his lackluster support for medical marijuana, but he definitely redeemed himself big time on Wednesday June 27 during debate in the U.S. House of Representatives on the Hinchey-Rohrabacher budget amendment. The amendment, first attempted in 2003, seeks to prohibit the use of federal funds to target medical marijuana patients in states that have legalized the option. Although the amendment lost 163-259, it gained two votes over last year's total. You can read the roll call by clicking here. Hopefully, thee will be some changes this November so next year this amendment can reach the 218 vote threshold it needs to pass.

As in prior years, all four Wisconsin Republicans: Reps. F. James Sensenbrenner, Paul Ryan, Thomas Petri and 2006 GOP candidate for governor Mark Green voted to continue to use tax dollars to arrest the sick and dying, while Obey was joined by Reps. Tammy Baldwin, Gwen Moore and Ron Kind. Of the four, only Baldwin has sponsored Barney Frank's States Rights to Medical Marijuana Act each session. Obey's statement from the debate appears below:

"If I am terminally ill, it is not anybody's business on this floor how I handle the pain or the illness or the sickness associated with that illness. With all due respect to all of you, butt out. I did not enter this world with the permission of the Justice Department, and I am certainly not going to depart it by seeking their permission or that of any other authority. The Congress has no business telling people that they cannot manage their illness or their pain any way they need to. I would trust any doctor in the country before I trust some of the daffy ducks in this institution to decide what I am supposed to do if I am terminally ill… When is this Congress going to recognize that individuals in their private lives have a right to manage their problems as they see fit without the permission of the big guy in the White House or the big guy in the Justice Department or any of the Lilliputians on this Congressional floor? Wake up!"

Posted by Gary at 03:33 PM | Comments (0)

June 16, 2006

La Crosse County decriminaluizes cannabis

Posted by Gary Storck
Friday, June 16, 2006

Good news out of La Crosse County as the County Board voted 15-12 to give first time offenders with 25 grams or less a ticket for cannabis possession. The move was supported by the local drug court judge who noted how much it costs taxpayers to prosecute cases involving possesion of small amounts. It is great to see La Crosse moving forward progressively on this issue. Hopefully, this may lead to more Wisconsin counties following suit.


Source: La Crosse Tribune
Pubdate: Friday, June 16, 2006
Author: DAN SIMMONS | La Crosse Tribune

COUNTY OKS POT PLAN: BOARD PASSES ORDINANCE FOR MARIJUANA CITATION

A new La Crosse County ordinance would send criminal charges up in smoke for low-risk offenders busted with under 25 grams - a little less than an ounce - of marijuana.

At a Thursday meeting, the county board voted 15-12 to pass the ordinance, which would send first-time offenders away with a citation and fine instead of a misdemeanor charge.

The vote followed nearly two hours of debate that included testimony from the district attorney, a judge and the county sheriff - and a few moments of levity that would please Cheech and Chong.

District Attorney Scott Horne argued against the ordinance, saying the current system identifies problem offenders early, before they move on to more serious drug abuse and criminal behavior, and doesn't taint their records if they follow court-ordered education and community-service programs.

"The ordinance sends the wrong message to the community and removes the current emphasis on education and assessment," he said.

County board member and defense attorney Keith Belzer then engaged Horne in a questioning that resembled a cross-examination at trial.

Belzer asked if Horne intended to use the ordinance if passed.

"The county board can't compel a prosecution strategy," Horne replied, adding "there should be further discussion about it" if passed.

La Crosse County Circuit Judge John Perlich, who presides over the county's Drug Court, wasted no time challenging most of what Horne said.

He held four criminal complaints for minor marijuana possession from a recent day, which he riffled through with his fingers as he recited a long list of clerks who spent time filing and processing the complaints.

"All this for a low-risk offender - all this costs you, the taxpayer, a lot of money," he said.

Onalaska, Wis., has had a similar ordinance in place for more than two decades, he said, "and last I checked, it's not a den of dope-smoking meth-heads."

Board member and Central High School microeconomics teacher Jim Berns also argued against the ordinance, saying he's seen too many young lives derailed by drug abuse. The current approach, he said, "allows them to turn a poor or impulsive decision into something positive."

Belzer said he's represented many clients whose lives were equally affected by the legal snarls and inability to get insurance benefits and student loans after being busted for having marijuana seeds in an ashtray.

But like Horne, La Crosse County Sheriff Michael Weissenberger voiced strong opposition to the ordinance. Marijuana possession, even in small amounts, is reason for concern, he said.

"How do we know the person didn't just get done selling more of it?" he said.

Toward the end of the debate, board member Ray Ebert asked Weissenberger how many joints could be rolled from 25 grams of marijuana - the legal limit under the ordinance.

"Depends on how you roll them," Weissenberger replied.

Board chairman Steve Doyle interjected.

"Any marijuana users out there want to fill us in?" he said, addressing the 28 board members present.

All broke out in laughter. None answered his question.

Dan Simmons can be reached at (608) 791-8217 or dsimmons@lacrossetribune.com.

Posted by Gary at 09:59 AM | Comments (0)

June 09, 2006

Letter: Try regulated marijuana use

Posted by Gary Storck
Friday, June 09, 2006

A letter I wrote commenting on the need for cannabis coffeeshops in Madison appeared in today's Wisconsin State Journal.

Source: Wisconsin State Journal
Pubdate: Friday, June 09, 2006

TRY REGULATED MARIJUANA USE

It was disappointing to read in Tuesday's paper that the landlord of a local all-ages alcohol-free music venue yanked its lease in response to allegations of off-premises cannabis smoking and other reasons.

What Madison really needs are alcohol-free, adult-only venues where cannabis can be consumed on site. Hardly a day goes by when we don't read of some alcohol-fueled incident that caused injury, death or destruction. The same day this article appeared there was an update on the case of a man with a lingering brain injury from an unprovoked attack that was likely alcohol-related.

While alcohol may help fuel our economy, it is also fueling a lot of mayhem for which we all pay. And while our society has basically designated alcohol as our official recreational drug, a significant segment of society reacts poorly to it. Regulating adult use of cannabis as we do alcohol and tobacco would make Madison safer.

Gary Storck, co-founder, Madison chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws

Posted by Gary at 12:27 PM | Comments (0)

June 04, 2006

A letter from 27 years ago today

Posted by Gary Storck
Sunday, June 4, 2006

Since 1979, June 4 has held special meaning for me. My then-ophthalmologist wrote me a letter dated June 4, 1979 that states, "I am familiar that reports that marijuana lowers intraocular pressure in many people who have glaucoma. If marijuana were available for me to prescribe to this patient, I would be willing to do so, in the hope it would adequately control his condition with fewer side effects than the medications currently available."

Unfortunately, under federal law, my doctor could not prescribe marijuana then and still cannot do so today. Marijuana could be prescribed up until 1970, when Congress passed the Controlled Substances Act classing marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug with a high potential for abuse and no medical use. 36 years later and counting, they have still not corrected this grave error, and many millions of patients over several generations have paid the price.

The letter was significant personally in that it represented the first time a doctor had recognized, in writing, that cannabis would benefit me and that it should be available like any other medication. Seven years earlier, October 3, 1972, I had stumbled upon pot as a treatment for the congenital glaucoma that had steadily stolen my sight all through childhood. I had smoked some pot with friends after school and headed off to see a different eye doctor. He found my normally highly elevated intraocular pressures normal. Since that day I have continued to medicate with cannabis every day I could obtain it, through the 1970's, 1980's, 1990's and today over halfway through the 00's.

If America truly is the land of liberty and justice for all, the Berlin wall of cannabis prohibition must fall, like the lies and myths that have been perpetrated in the name of keeping this gentle herb from patients in need. The sky is blue not green, and its time to stop the lies and the war and let the healing begin.

Posted by Gary at 12:00 PM | Comments (0)