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July 29, 2007

2007 Hinchey Amendment debate transcript from Congressional Record

Posted by Gary Storck
Sunday, July 29, 2007

I hadn't seen a transcript of the Hinchey Amendment debate posted yet, so I here it is, copied and pasted off the Congressional Record. The villains of the piece are New Jersey Republican Rodney P. Frelinghuysen and Florida Republican Dave "Jeepers" Weldon, M.D.

AMENDMENT OFFERED BY MR. HINCHEY

Mr. HINCHEY. Mr. Chairman, I offer an amendment.

The Clerk read as follows:

Amendment offered by Mr. Hinchey:

At the end of the bill (before the short title), insert the following:

TITLE VII--ADDITIONAL GENERAL PROVISIONS

Sec. 701. None of the funds made available in this Act to the Department of Justice may be used, with respect to the States of Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington, to prevent such States from implementing their own State laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana.

Mr. HINCHEY. Mr. Chairman, I am introducing an amendment that is designed to protect States' rights and to provide people across our country in these 12 States that have passed laws authorizing the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes to have access to that medical use.

It is a very simple, very serious proposal. The Constitution of the United States is very clear. It authorizes States' rights in every other area that is not specifically designated to the Federal Government. One of those main areas is health care. The States have the authority to take care of their own people and to make sure that they have access to the best possible health care.

The amendment is supported by a number of other important organizations across the country, in addition to organizations in those 12 States of Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington that have passed laws authorizing the medicinal use of this product. Two of those States have passed it through their legislatures. The other 10 have passed it by means of referendum. In other words, the people themselves have passed this in referendum.

This is an amendment that really should be adopted. It doesn't do anything to stimulate any violations of the law. It just says those States ought to be able to determine how to take care of their own people. There are a variety of ways in which that can be done to make sure that they get proper attention.

I yield to the gentlewoman from California.

Ms. LEE. Mr. Chairman, let me thank the gentleman from New York for yielding and also for his leadership and for continuing to beat the drum on this very, very important issue.

Mr. Chairman, this amendment is about allowing State governments to provide relief for a small, very important group of people who are suffering from chronic pain or terminal illness. This amendment does not encourage or make legal the recreational use of marijuana. Eleven States, including my home State of California, have legalized medical marijuana, with clear guidelines for doctors' approval before usage.

For example, a constituent from Oakland, Angel Raich, has been diagnosed with more than 10 serious medical conditions, including an inoperable brain tumor. Ms. Raich and others who use medical marijuana are simply trying to relieve their crushing pain while following the guidelines and laws that their doctors and the States have already established. Taxpayer dollars shouldn't be spent on sending seriously or terminally ill patients to jail. Their doctors, not Congress, should decide which drugs will work best.

Mr. Chairman, I urge my colleagues to vote ``yes'' on this amendment and ensure that patients' rights are upheld. This is the right thing to do. This is the compassionate thing to do. This is about health care.

Mr. Chairman, I want to thank the gentleman from New York again for once again offering this amendment.

[Page: H8483] GPO's PDF

Mr. HINCHEY. Mr. Chairman, reclaiming my time, I want to make it clear that there are many dozens of organizations that are focused on health care and constitutional rights across the country; not just in those 12 States, but in a lot of other places, as well, who have endorsed this idea and support this amendment.

They include the American Nurses Association, the American Public Health Association, and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Medical societies all across this country have endorsed this amendment because they know it is in the best interests of people suffering from diseases such as AIDS, cancer, glaucoma and others that can be relieved of pain and suffering and be of assistance in recovering from the debilitating aspects of these diseases.

It simply makes good common sense for us to authorize this amendment. I hope that the majority of the Members in this House of Representatives will now take this opportunity to support good health care for Americans and also support this basic provision of the Constitution.

Mr. Chairman, I yield back the balance of my time.

Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the last word.

The CHAIRMAN. The gentleman from New Jersey is recognized for 5 minutes.

Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. Mr. Chairman, I rise in opposition to this amendment.

Mr. Chairman, not only does this amendment hurt law enforcement's efforts to combat drug trafficking, but it sends the wrong message. Marijuana is the most widely abused drug in the United States. According to the Drug Enforcement Agency, which is under the jurisdiction of our committee, more young people are now in treatment for marijuana dependency than for alcohol or for all other illegal drugs combined.

This amendment does not address the problem of marijuana abuse and possibly makes it worse by sending the message to young people that there can be health benefits from smoking marijuana.

Our committee received a letter last week from John Walters, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy opposing the gentleman's amendment. He warns of the potential public health impacts of encouraging the unfounded belief that smoking marijuana is a safe and effective medicine, contrary to prevailing expert opinion.

Last year, our own FDA stated: ``Smoked cannabis has no acceptable medical use in treatment in the United States,'' and that no animal or human data supported the safety or efficacy of marijuana for general medical use. Furthermore, the FDA has not approved smoked marijuana for any condition or disease indication.

Mr. Chairman, I urge rejection of the gentleman's amendment.

Mr. Chairman, I yield back the balance of my time.

Mr. MOLLOHAN. Mr. Chairman, I ask unanimous consent that the gentleman from New York have 3 additional minutes.

The CHAIRMAN. Without objection, the gentleman from New York is recognized for 3 additional minutes.

There was no objection.

Mr. HINCHEY. Mr. Chairman, I just want to point out that the people who are opposed to this amendment, including the gentleman who just spoke, apparently do not understand what we are doing here.

This amendment does not affect States, other than those that have passed laws with respect to medical marijuana, only those 12 States. This amendment would not require or encourage other States to adopt medical marijuana laws. This amendment would not stop law enforcement officials from prosecuting the illegal use of marijuana. This amendment does not encourage drug use in children. Teen use of marijuana has declined in States that have passed medical marijuana laws, and in some of those States it has declined dramatically.

The purpose of this amendment is to allow these States to give relief to people suffering from horrific diseases without fearing Federal intervention or prosecution. At stake in this debate is who should be deciding what is best for patients: Should it be the patients themselves, the doctors, or should it be arbitrarily somebody in the Federal Government?

Support this amendment and support States' rights and compassion. Doctors in these 12 States know what is best for their patients. The Federal Government should not stand in their way.

I yield the remainder of my time to the gentleman from Tennessee.

Mr. COHEN. Mr. Chairman, I had a dear friend named Oral James Mitchell, Jr. Oral James Mitchell, Jr., was a Navy SEAL. He fought in Vietnam. Oral James Mitchell, Jr., got pancreatic cancer. He lived in Bethesda, Maryland, a 210-pound strapping man that you would want on your side in a fight, and I have had on my side in a fight, and this country had on its side in a fight in the Vietnam War.

When he had pancreatic cancer, he smoked marijuana. And his 88-year-old Irish Catholic mother said to me, ``Thank God for the marijuana. It is the only thing that makes Oral smile or eat.''

I watched that man go down to 115 pounds and die. And Mrs. Mitchell was correct. As he was dying of pancreatic cancer, if he was in a State that made it legal, States' rights say they should have some authority, and Brandeis said States are the laboratories of democracy. And as laboratories of democracy, we ought to experiment and find out if it works and if it is good for people who are dying, if it gives them some relief. If it is glaucoma, if it is cancer, whatever the illness, they should have that relief.

I would ask that we not have the Federal Government and DEA infringe on the laws of the States that have had changes in their laws, oftentimes through referenda of their people, and we allow those States to be the laboratories of democracy and not interfere with people who are dying, people who might have given their lives for this country, but who are dying and get some respite and some relief.

So I ask you to pass this and allow States to have rights and people to have some relief in their dying days.

Mr. WELDON of Florida. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the last word.

The CHAIRMAN. The gentleman is recognized for 5 minutes.

Mr. WELDON of Florida. Mr. Chairman, I rise in opposition to this amendment.

I just want to say a few words about marijuana. First of all, it does cause cancer. I have seen it. I have seen people with lung cancer, no risk other than they were chronic marijuana smokers.

Additionally, the last time we were debating this bill, I called one of my former colleagues in my medical practice who is an oncologist, I had three oncologists, and I asked him for the latest information on cannabis, or THC. He again informed me this is available in pill form. You can actually get it in pill form. Additionally, it is not a very good antiemetic and not a good appetite stimulator. There are about 18 different products legally available that doctors can prescribe.

By and large, most of the people who want to use this want to get high and there are consequences to letting this move forward.

Saying that this State and this State allows this, we need to remember something: States govern where you practice medicine. If I want to practice medicine here, I have got to get a license in the District of Columbia. If I want to open a satellite office, I have got to get a license in Maryland or Virginia. But the Federal Government regulates prescribing, for obvious reasons. If the patient comes in to see me here and lives in Virginia, they are going to go over to a pharmacy there. So the Federal Government has always regulated this.

There are significant consequences to making this product widely available, and that is what this amendment will do. This is a very, very bad amendment. Marijuana has been implicated in railroad accidents. It has been implicated in car accidents. It is documented to have an adverse effect on memory.

Jeepers, we have people dying in this country from the effects of cigarettes. We have people dying in this country from the effects of alcohol. We have people in this body wanting to ban cigarettes and ban smoking. And now we are going to take action to allow another dangerous substance on the market? And there is an agenda of the people who are behind these kinds of amendments.

[Time: 20:45]

They want to legalize marijuana, and they want to make another dangerous product available to our society. I think that this is a bad direction for us to go in. This a bad amendment and a dangerous amendment. I would encourage all of my colleagues to vote ``no'' on the amendment.

Mr. ROHRABACHER. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the last word.

The CHAIRMAN. The gentleman from California is recognized for 5 minutes.

Mr. ROHRABACHER. Mr. Chairman, I rise in strong support of the Hinchey-Rohrabacher amendment, which would prohibit any funds made available in this act to be used to prevent implementation of legally passed State laws in those 12 States that have authorized the use of marijuana for medical purposes.

The Founding Fathers wanted criminal law to be the domain of local and State governments. Sick and infirm people who live in the 12 States that have been granted by the voters in these States the legal right to use marijuana to alleviate their suffering if a doctor agrees, we should not make them targets of prosecution. If the voters in a State have so voted, and a doctor agrees, it is a travesty for the Federal Government to waste scarce Federal resources to harass sick people, elderly cancer patients and frail, multiple sclerosis sufferers and prevent them from getting the relief their personal doctors have recommended.

We have heard here hysterical talk about how voting for this amendment will somehow prevent the Federal Government from being able to go after narcotics traffickers. That is nonsense. The DEA would still have the power to arrest anyone selling marijuana for recreational use, as well as anyone selling cocaine or any other drugs. After all, although related to opium, yes, and even heroin, morphine is already used legally in hospitals throughout the United States. That does not mean that we are going to open up the whole country to heroin because we allow hospitals to use morphine.

Whether morphine or marijuana, the fact is that Federal resources could be better used and shouldn't be wasted on arresting sick people or their doctors. Those Federal resources, if this amendment passes, can be redirected away from these people, but to major drug traffickers or crime syndicates. That makes a lot more sense than trying to stop somebody or arrest somebody who has a doctor's prescription because they are suffering from cancer treatment. It makes more sense to focus on the drug dealers, for Pete's sake.

Here in the House there is a wide coalition of Republicans and Democrats, conservatives and liberals, and this number has grown year by year, who want to promote State autonomy on this issue. This is what the Founding Fathers wanted. Criminal matters should be left up to the States.

A vote ``yes'' on Hinchey-Rohrabacher is a vote to respect the intent of our Founding Fathers and respect the rights of our people at the State level to make the criminal law under which they and their families will live. It reinforces rules surrounding the patient-doctor relationship, and it is in contrast to emotional posturing and Federal power grabs and bureaucratic arrogance, which is really at the heart of the opposition.

This is a vote for good government. This is a good vote for honest compassion. The legal, humanitarian and practical thing to do is to vote ``yes'' on this amendment.

Let me just note this. I have had personal experiences on this, and I certainly respect Dr. Weldon and his opinion. And I have asked him for his opinion many times for problems of my own. But I lost my mother, and I recently lost my brother, to cancer. I will tell you in both cases there was a loss of appetite and just a pessimism that came over my mother and my brother both. If marijuana would have helped them, and if a doctor would have prescribed it for them, it would have been a horrible thing to think that Federal agents would come in and try to interfere with that so they would not be able to get marijuana, if that is what their doctor felt would have helped them.

That is what we are deciding today: Is that a right use of resources, number one, to go in and interfere with this doctor-patient relationship? They already use morphine in hospitals. That doesn't interfere with people trying to get control of the sale of heroin on our streets. No, this will not interfere with that. But what this will do is prevent a terrible waste of Federal resources.

And let us note again, if people are sick, and a doctor says yes, this would be a good treatment, I don't think our Founding Fathers, who wanted the State governments to make these criminal laws, but I don't even think that they would have wanted the State governments to interfere in such a relationship.

Our Founding Fathers believed in individual freedom, and they believed in limited government. Where else but in the doctor-patient relationship should we have a limit on the government coming in and making things criminal matters? I urge my colleagues to vote ``yes'' on the Hinchey-Rohrabacher amendment.

The CHAIRMAN. The question is on the amendment offered by the gentleman from New York (Mr. Hinchey).

The question was taken; and the Chairman announced that the noes appeared to have it.

Mr. HINCHEY. Mr. Chairman, I demand a recorded vote.

The CHAIRMAN. Pursuant to clause 6 of rule XVIII, further proceedings on the amendment offered by the gentleman from New York will be postponed.

[snip]

Posted by Gary at 10:09 PM | Comments (0)

Ben Masel sues over June 2006 Union Terrace pepper spraying and arrest

Posted by Gary Storck
Sunday, July 29, 2007

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.

Masel still faces a state trespassing charge that carries a maximum $252 fine after misdemeanor disorderly and resisting/obstructing charges were dismissed. The presiding judge declined a motion to join the cases, so the trespassing charge will wait until the lawsuit is decided.

No matter who wins, Masel says the case is likely headed to appeals court over the legal standard of public versus private spaces. There are no free speech rights in private places, but there are many spaces with elements of each, such as public-private partnerships. The Union, with its special place in the public heart, makes this case particularly unique, he says.

Ben thinks it could ultimately be up to the State Supreme Court to decide the balance, which he says is now wide open at state level. There are similar cases nationwide, including downtown Silver Spring MD, where the private operator who invested and revitalized the entire downtown now says they can prohibit all political signature gathering and leafleting. Ben, never one to allow distance to interfere with his First Amendment rights, finds that situation tantalizing, noting Maryland is just an overnight train ride away…

Source: Wisconsin State Journal
Pubdate: July 27, 2007

Marijuana activist sues over arrest

Marijuana activist Ben Masel filed a lawsuit Wednesday claiming his rights were violated when he was arrested at Union Terrace in June 2006 while collecting signatures to get his name on the ballot as a U.S. Senate candidate.

The suit, filed in Dane County Circuit Court , seeks unspecified monetary damages and asks the court to find a policy prohibiting people from soliciting signatures in specific areas of Memorial Union unconstitutional.

Defendants include UW-Madison Police Officers Mike Mansavage and John McCaughtry, whom the suit alleges ”brutally manhandled” Masel and sprayed him with pepper spray.


Posted by Gary at 12:11 AM | Comments (0)

July 27, 2007

Georgia Republican Congressman/M.D. votes for Hinchey: An Example for Steve Kagen

Posted by Gary Storck
Friday, July 27, 2007

While freshman Wisconsin congressman and M.D. Steve Kagen voted to support arresting medical marijuana patients in the 12 states where medical marijuana is now legal, a Georgia Republican, Paul Broun, and a physician like Kagen, bucked the GOP leadership and became one of only fifteen Republicans voting for Hinchey. Broun is in general practice and Kagen is an allergist, which might explain Kagen’s lack of compassion for the sick and dying, as an allergist would be unlikely to be exposed to many patients who need medical cannabis.

Broun is also a freshman, and was recently elected to fill the seat of the late Charlie Norwood, who passed away. Kudos to Broun, a doctor who takes his oath to “do no harm” very seriously.

Not your father’s Republican: Broun casts his vote against prosecuting users of medical marijuana click here

Friday, July 27, 2007, 08:14 AM

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Washington — In one of his first votes as a congressman, Athens physician Paul Broun has given fulsome indication that he doesn’t intend to run with the Republican herd.

As midnight approached on Wednesday, hours after he was sworn in, Broun declared himself in favor of a measure sponsored by U.S. Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-N.Y.) to bar the U.S. Department of Justice from prosecuting those who use medical marijuana for medicinal purposes.

In doing so, Broun bucked his House Republican leadership and split with all six of Georgia’s other Republican congressmen.

“To me, it was a state’s rights vote, and a constitutional powers issue,” Broun said early this morning.

Democrat John Barrow also opposed the measure. Democrat Jim Marshall did not vote. Democrats John Lewis, Hank Johnson, Sanford Bishop, and David Scott voted yes.

Here’s the roll call. click here

You’ll note that 14 other Republicans voted ‘yes’ with Broun, including Ron Paul of Texas and Tom Tancredo of Colorado.

The measure, which failed 165 to 262, is an annual rite and attracted little notice until late Thursday. Broun didn’t mention it in an interview that morning, later explaining it came during a rushed series of two-minute votes.

In a statement issued near midnight, Broun emphasized he was serious when he called for limits on federal government. Some states have authorized the use of medicinal marijuana.

He said in a prepared release:

“As I promised on the campaign trail, I would make the Constitution my primary guide on how I voted on all matters. Roll Call vote 733 was a constitutional issue pertaining to ‘restraining’ the federal government from interfering with the right of states to establish public policy on matters not specifically addressed by the Constitution.”


Posted by Gary at 10:16 AM | Comments (0)

July 25, 2007

Steve Kagen votes to arrest medical marijuana patients: John Gard would approve

Posted by Gary Storck
Wednesday, July 25, 2007

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

Final Vote Results For Roll Call 733 click here

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.

Shamefully, one of those was Wisconsin Democrat Rep. Steve Kagen, who joined Republicans Jim Sensenbrenner, Paul Ryan and Tom Petri in voting against Hinchey to continue funding federal efforts aimed at subverting state medical marijuana laws. His fellow Democrats, Tammy Baldwin, Ron Kind, Gwen Moore and David Obey all voted to protect patients in the 12 states with state laws.

A BIG THANK YOU once again to Reps. Baldwin, Kind, Moore and Obey. Be sure to call them and thank them!

Ironically, Steve Kagen voted the same way anti-medical marijuana fanatic John Gard would have, the exact same way ex-Rep. Mark Green did each year! What is up? Patients and those who care about them in Kagen’s district should be up in arms!

Give Rep. Kagen a call or stop by one of his offices and ask why he voted to use our tax dollars against sick people acting legally under state laws. Ask him if when Wisconsin passes medical marijuana legislation he’ll support federal authorities interfering in our state.

With over 80% support statewide and in his district, medical marijuana supporters arguably provided Kagen’s margin of victory. If he continues to vote this way, he’s likely to lose support that could easily provide the margin of victory in a district he carried by a razor thin margin. There is no downside in voting for medical marijuana.

Kagen's vote came the same day as the DEA raided at least six Los Angeles medical cannabis dispensaries. California voters passed their medical cannabis law in Nov. 1996.

Washington DC Office:

Honorable Steve Kagen M.D.
1232 Longworth HOB
Washington DC 20515
ph: (202) 225-5665
fx: (202) 225-5729

District Office

Honorable Steve Kagen M.D.
700 E.Walnut Street
Green Bay, WI 54301
ph: (920) 437-1954
fx: (920) 437-1978

333 West College Ave.
Radisson Paper Valley
Appleton, WI 54911
ph: (920) 380-0061
fx: (920) 380-0051

Posted by Gary at 10:39 PM | Comments (0)

Charges in Milwaukee homicide over marijuana

Posted by Gary Storck
Wednesday, July 25, 2007

When someone is killed during the commission of a crime, the perpetrators can be charged with murder, even if they didn't pull the trigger. When someone is robbed of marijuana and killed, those responsible for maintaining marijuana prohibition and its criminal market should be held responsible. Robberies and even killings of pot dealers are an all too common example of the effects of prohibiting cannabis instead of taxing and regulating it like alcohol and tobacco.

The article below, from the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel's website, tells the sad story of what happens when government shirks its duty to protect citizens by regulating (and even taxing) America's huge cannabis market. Not only is someone dead, but taxpayers will foot the $30K per year bill for incarcerating the perp. Add in the costs of prosecution, and you are talking millions. Just a small part of the tax we all pay for keeping pot illegal and out of the hands of patients, farmers, and those who desire a safer and non-toxic substance to socialize with.

MONDAY, July 23, 2007, 5:17 p.m.
By Bob Purvis
Charges in homicide over marijuana

Jervis T. Moore was killed Wednesday in a struggle over two pounds of marijuana, according to a criminal complaint filed today.

Mack Lee Lewis, 31, went to meet Moore in the 3100 block of N. 38th St. to buy the drugs after being introduced by a mutual friend, the complaint states.

Lewis tried wrestling the bundle of weed away from Moore, 33, and shot him three times when Moore resisted, the complaint said.

Police found a large amount of marijuana at Lewis' house and the handgun used to shoot Moore, according to the complaint.

Lewis is charged with one count each of first degree reckless homicide while armed and being a felon in possession of a firearm.

He is considered a habitual criminal and faces enhanced penalties if found guilty. Lewis was released from prison in 2006 after serving 12 years of a 20 year sentence for a felony murder conviction.

If convicted of the new charges, Lewis faces a maximum of sentence of 85 years and prison and a $25,000 fine.

[snip]


Posted by Gary at 12:34 AM | Comments (1)

July 10, 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

Posted by Gary Storck
Tuesday, July 10, 2007

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.

Jacki in a wheelchair, accompanied by myself, Carolyn, a 21 year old multiple sclerosis patient and two others, were at the Capitol to try to put a face on the medical cannabis issue and build support for legislation to be introduced this September.

After visiting and being well received by staff at a number of offices, Jacki decided it was time to visit Assembly Health Committee chair, Rep. Leah Vukmir’s (R-Wauwatosa) office, as Vukmir had never responded to a letter from Jacki that was hand-delivered on April 18.

special+D_041907.jpg
Gary hands Jacki’s letter
to Vukmir staffer on April 18.

Her office was a circus of activity as we entered, due to the day’s scheduled debate and vote on the Republican-controlled Assembly’s budget answer to the Democratic-controlled state Senate’s budget. A little earlier, we had sat in the Assembly gallery as the session was called to order, observing until a recess was called for partisan caucusing.

The same gentleman I hand delivered Jacki’s letter to in April was seated at his desk, and he recognized me and gave our little party of patients a clearly unwelcoming gaze. I explained we were there to rebut Rep. Vukmir’s negative comments:

Rep. Leah Vukmir on medical marijuana

But Rep. Leah Vukmir, R-Wauwatosa, who chairs the Assembly Committee on Health and Healthcare Reform, said she will continue her opposition to medical marijuana because of concerns about its safety.

Vukmir, a nurse, said she believes it is better for patients to use medications that have been approved or may soon be available than to have people grow their own marijuana.

"I will refuse to put members through the circus of a hearing for a bill that is not going to go anywhere," Vukmir said. "This is nothing more than a backdoor attempt to legalize marijuana, which is not going to happen on my watch."

From: Wisconsin State Journal, April 10, 2007

As we each detailed our daily struggles and spoke of the pain, uncertainty and fear of living with serious illness, or watching a loved one suffer, the staffer’s response was to smirk. I then requested that he stop smirking, noting that the daily struggles of sick people are very serious.

But apparently hearing actual human beings relate how illness makes them suffer on a daily basis, and how cannabis helps relieve some of that suffering, was too much to bear.

We were told to leave and when we continued talking, the staff dropped a dime, and 4 or 5 Capitol Police quickly responded, ordering the wheelchair bound Jacki, Carolyn with service dog Bud, and myself out of Vukmir’s first floor office.

vukmir_a14.jpg
Representative
Leah Vukmir
14th Assembly District
Republican
Room 107 West
State Capitol
P.O. Box 8953
Madison, WI 53708
Telephone (608) 266-9180
Fax (608) 282-3614
Email Rep.Vukmir@legis.wisconsin.gov
------

It says a lot about the state of health care in Wisconsin when a nurse-practitioner/State Assembly Rep./Health Committee chair is so scared of scientific fact that her staff calls police to clear out patients in wheelchairs. This kind of willful ignorance, as I told Vukmir’s staff, is clear evidence that she is unfit to be the committee chair.

Polling in New Jersey has found that voters are nearly five times as likely to vote for candidates who support medical cannabis legislation click here. Five years ago, in February 2002, the poll IMMLY sponsored click here found over 80% support statewide, and even stronger support in Vukmir’s district. I can’t understand why this issue, so evocative of traditional Republican values, is publicly supported by so few from the GOP. Just today, Rudy Giuliani, a man who profited handsomely from Perdue Pharmaceutical’s hooking of America on oxycontin, lost millions of votes by parroting ONDCP/DEA propaganda in deeming medical cannabis unnecessary click here.

While we were in the Assembly gallery, mention was made on the floor of a school in Milwaukee named after Ronald Reagan, sparking great applause from Assembly Republicans. I wonder how many know that Reagan’s late aide, Lyn Nofziger was a medical cannabis patient, as was his daughter, who preceded him in death by many years. I met Lyn at a press conference on July 24, 2002, in the US Capitol with Jim & Cheryl Miller, Keith Stroup, Reps. Barney Frank, Ron Paul, Dana Rohrabacher and other representatives, supporting the States Rights to Medical Marijuana Act click here. Lyn was very moved by Cheryl’s frail condition. I had brought my copy of the late Robert Randall’s book, which Lyn had written the forward of, and he signed it simply, “to Gary Storck, Hang in there.”

I am hanging in there, but as Cheryl Miller once said, “It’s been a long time.” It’s a pretty sad day for the state of Wisconsin when the Assembly Health Committee chair, in full defiance of the will of over 80% of the people, has police remove people in wheelchairs from her office. People with MS, Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, glaucoma, chronic pain and heart problems, aren’t the problem. It’s obstinate lawmakers who refuse to understand that not only is this a health issue very popular with their constituents, but it is becoming mainstream. For ten years now, medical marijuana has been blocked in Wisconsin. As Ronald Reagan once said: “Tear down this wall.”

Posted by Gary at 09:04 PM | Comments (0)

July 08, 2007

Rare victory for the 4th Amendment in Wisconsin!

Posted by Gary Storck
Sunday, July 08, 2007

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 click here.

Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Pubdate: July 8, 2007
Author: Daniel Bice

AFTER SEARCH, MARIJUANA CASE SNUFFED OUT

There are drug busts, and there are drug busts.

And then there are the drug cases that go bust.

On Friday, April 13, two Milwaukee County sheriff's deputies pulled over the driver of a white Oldsmobile for a driving infraction on northbound I-94. One thing led to another, and the deputies soon discovered 44 1/2 pounds of marijuana - with a street value of $30,000 - in the trunk of the Oldsmobile.

The cops then arrested the driver, a 23-year-old Milwaukee man, and the passenger, a 22-year-old from South Milwaukee.

Not a bad day's work for the pair of deputies.

The following week, Sheriff David Clarke Jr. issued a press release touting the arrests and suggesting local prosecutors would be bringing charges soon. The release, as is typical, prompted stories in the Journal Sentinel and the TV evening news.

"At the beginning of the year, Sheriff Clarke ordered drug investigators to concentrate efforts on interdiction," the release crowed. "Historically, the freeway system has been a preferred route used to transport illegal narcotics into the Milwaukee area.

"This seizure highlights that."

But now more than two months later, the case is kaput.

The two men in the Oldsmobile walked without being charged. The two deputies are now under investigation by their own department. And a top county prosecutor recently circulated an e-mail effectively barring the pair from serving as prosecution witnesses in Milwaukee County ever again.

"I did convey to the rest of our legal staff," Deputy District Attorney Kent Lovern said last week, "that it was my opinion that we should not use the officers in future cases."

This touted drug bust, in other words, has gone up in smoke.

What went wrong?

Everything was OK, it appears, when the cops cuffed the two guys in the Oldsmobile. Naturally, both said they had no idea how all that weed got into the trunk.

Could happen to anyone, right?

But Clarke said the two deputies, whom he would not name until the internal probe is finished, decided later to go to the driver's house to do what's called a knock and talk. That's where the officers knock on the door and try to convince the resident to agree to a search of the house.

This is not as effective as going and getting a search warrant, but it's much easier and quicker.

When the deputies got to the guy's house, the sheriff said, they found no one home but the front door open.

What to do?

According to Clarke, the pair say they then invited themselves in because they feared that someone might be injured in the house.

Right.

Once inside, they found a gun and more dope, Clarke said.

Lovern, the deputy DA, declined to discuss the details of the investigation but said the whole case is tainted.

"We knew we would see a Fourth Amendment challenge on the actions of the officers, and we were concerned we would not survive that challenge," he said, referring to the ban on unreasonable searches and seizures.

"Quite frankly, we just didn't feel like we were in a position to adequately convey the credibility of a couple of officers involved in the case."

Prosecutors must have concluded that the two officers' credibility was so badly shot that they couldn't be counted on to withstand cross-examination on the marijuana that was legally seized from the car.

Officials with the Milwaukee County deputies union did not return calls Friday.

Clarke put the entire matter more bluntly: A cop can't walk into a house and search it because the front door is open.

Duh.

"Even I had a problem with that," Clarke said. "We couldn't use that (evidence) because that's fruit from a poisonous tree. They shouldn't have been in the house."

Put another way: What were these cops smoking?

The twice-elected Democratic sheriff said the deputies created "a convenient excuse for circumventing the Fourth Amendment." He said he expects the internal investigation of the officers to be completed soon.

So did you catch all that?

Clarke, a guy being sued in federal court by six different deputies over a variety of constitutional issues, thought the pair in this case crossed the legal line.

That's when you know it's not a close call.

But don't expect to read any of this in a press release from Clarke's office anytime soon.

[snip]

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

July 04, 2007

Letter in the Shepherd Express: Stop Raids on Medical Cannabis

Posted by Gary Storck
Wednesday, July 4, 2007

I was recently perusing the online version of Milwaukee's Shepherd Express and came across an article in espresso detailing where right-wing Wisconsin Republican Congressman F. James Sensenbrenner's wealth lies. When I read that a quarter of it was in pharmaceutical stocks, it became clear to me that he legislates based on his own best intersts rather than those of his constituents (who overwhelmingly back medical marijuana). The result was this:

Source: Shepherd Express
Pubdate: July 04, 2007
Author: Gary Storck

STOP RAIDS ON MEDICAL CANNABIS

The fact that nearly a quarter of Congressman F. James Sensenbrenner's assets are stocks of pharmaceutical giants Merck & Co., Abbott Laboratories and Pfizer helps explain why he votes against medical marijuana whenever the opportunity arises ("Sensenbrenner's Assets," Expresso, June 21).

His next chance comes in a few weeks when Congress once again considers budget language forbidding federal agents from raiding medical cannabis patients and providers in the 12 states that have legalized it, one up from last year. Previous attempts in Republican-dominated Congresses have come up short, thanks to drug-industry buddies like Sensenbrenner and his Wisconsin GOP colleagues Tom Petri and Paul Ryan.

Those three politicians have distinguished themselves as tireless supporters of continuing to arrest the sick and dying should they choose marijuana over Merck & Co.

Hopefully, the Democrat who now holds anti-medical marijuana zealot Mark Green's former seat, Rep. Steve Kagen, will join fellow Wisconsin Reps. Tammy Baldwin, Gwen Moore, Ron Kind and David Obey in voting to block these raids. If enough members of the new Democratic majority in the House follow suit, it could be the first real positive step at the federal level in protecting patients who utilize medical cannabis. It might be bad for Sensenbrenner's stock portfolio, but he's already profited enough from the misery of generations of patients who died in pain because so-called public servants like him made sure medical marijuana stayed illegal.

Is My Medicine Legal YET?

www.immly.org
Gary Storck
Madison
July 04, 2007

Posted by Gary at 06:27 PM | Comments (0)

Manitowoc adopts bond amounts for marijuana possessors

Posted by Gary Storck
Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Happy 4th of July! May your Independence Day be smoking or inhaling!

While the authorities in Manitowoc will not be pursuing criminal charges for folks caught with less than 8 grams of cannabis, they still will be using a pretty big stick on people who generally pose no threat to the peace or social order.

Not only will a bond of $300 be enforced, but offenders will also lose their driver’s license for six months. As noted in prior reports on this ordinance’s progress, the ordinance “prevents a county circuit court judge from expunging the offender's record after the sentence is served.” Manitowoc Alder Paul Tittl apparently thinks softly beating the citizenry is fair and proper: "I believe that it is painful enough to cause people to think twice . There has got to be some teeth to it for it to be effective."

[snip}

Such claptrap emanating from a staunch Republican like Tittl, whose party leader George Bush just commuted the 30-month federal prison sentence of White House aide Lewis “Scooter” Libby for outing a CIA agent, proves that there are two systems of justice in this nation. Libby will undoubtedly be pardoned for his treasonous crimes that led us into an illegal war, but in Manitowoc, you can’t even get a pot ticket expunged if you are an ordinary citizen.

Source: Herald Times Reporter click here
Pubdate: July 3, 2007
Author: Kristopher Wenn

CITY ADOPTS BOND AMOUNTS FOR MARIJUANA POSSESSORS

MANITOWOC - First-time offenders of the city's new marijuana and drug paraphernalia ordinance will have to account for hefty bond amounts after Monday's Manitowoc Common Council meeting.

In June, the council moved to make possession of marijuana an ordinance violation instead of a misdemeanor charge in circuit court.

Under the recently adopted rules, first-time offenders caught with less than 8 grams will receive a city ticket. Those caught with more than 8 grams of marijuana will face a misdemeanor charge, and second and later offenses will be handled in circuit court, District Attorney Mark Rohrer said in February.

On Monday, the council voted unanimously to adopt bond amounts that were recommended by Municipal Judge Daniel Glaeser.

Adults found in possession of marijuana will have to pay a $300 bond and get a minimum six-month driver's license suspension. For possession of drug paraphernalia, adults will have to pay a $150 bond and get a six-month or longer driver's license suspension.

A juvenile in possession of marijuana will have a $150 bond and a six-month or longer suspension of the juvenile's driver's license. For possession of drug paraphernalia, juveniles will have a bond amount of $75 plus costs and will have their driver's license suspended for six months or longer.

"I think it's reasonable," said Alderman Paul Tittl. "I believe that it is painful enough to cause people to think twice . There has got to be some teeth to it for it to be effective."

The city ordinance prevents a county circuit court judge from expunging the offender's record after the sentence is served. The conviction will appear if there are any future offenses because a city citation can't be expunged.

Previously, suspects tried their case in circuit court where they faced the possibility of $1,000 in fines, six months in jail and a six-month driver's license suspension.

[snip]

Posted by Gary at 02:49 PM | Comments (0)