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October 27, 2007

Waukesha County might ease prosecutions for pot

Posted by Gary Storck
Saturday, Oct. 27, 2007

As one who was born and raised in Waukesha, I'm pleased to hear that the County is finally looking at decriminalizing possession of small amounts of cannabis.

Last month, a friend I grew up with in Waukesha died from colon cancer after a two and half year fight. He was a barber and a pillar of the community. In a five-year period, he was arrested twice for small (read tiny) amounts of pot and a pipe. Both times it was an illegal search. The first time he hired an attorney to fight the charges, but the police officer lied on the stand and the judge upheld his lie.

Five years later, the same thing happens again. My friend, feeling that he wasted a lot of money in fighting the first illegal search, because of the judge-police collusion, takes a plea bargain where he is urine tested and quits using pot.

Meanwhile, he is developing colon cancer. Cannabis shrinks tumors and the US Government has known this since 1974. But because of Waukesha County's harsh treatment of pot offenders, my friend is forced to quit pot just as he needs it the most.

Once diagnosed as terminal, he used cannabis to treat the pain and the nausea from the weekly chemo treatments up until his death.

So harsh enforcement of pot laws have real consequences. In my late friend's case, a pot arrest in Waukesha was literally a death sentence! It's about time Waukesha County exercises a little discretion. This is not an isolated incident. Over the years, I have heard from others treated rudely and harshly by Waukesha County authorities for minor pot possession. They certainly have much more important things to worry about.

Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel click here
Pubdate: Oct. 27, 2007
Author: Scott Williams


Change would mean ticket for simple possession

Waukesha - Joining a movement to decriminalize certain marijuana cases, Waukesha County officials are considering handling minor instances of possession like traffic tickets.

If the County Board approves, first-time offenders caught by sheriff's deputies with small amounts of marijuana or drug paraphernalia would be required only to pay a fine and would not get a criminal record. Currently, deputies refer all such cases to the district attorney's office for possible prosecution as misdemeanors, with penalties of up to six months in jail possible.

Many other municipalities and counties in Wisconsin already have taken steps toward decriminalization, but an advocate for relaxed marijuana laws expressed surprise that move would be under consideration in traditionally conservative Waukesha County.

"It's kind of an acknowledgment that Waukesha County is growing. They're not sweating the small stuff," said Madison-based activist Gary Storck.

Details of the proposed new policy have not been released yet. In Milwaukee County, offenders pay forfeitures of less than $500 in some cases if they have no significant criminal record and if they are caught with a small amount of pot for personal use only.

Waukesha County Sheriff Dan Trawicki said he supports the change because it would simplify the handling of minor drug cases and would ease needless strain on the court system.

Instead of processing an arrest and asking the district attorney to decide on criminal charges, a sheriff's deputy could just write a ticket and allow the defendant to pay a fine as a civil forfeiture.

"In certain cases, it's more efficient and it's appropriate," Trawicki said. "It's not going to change how we do business. It's just the manner in which we do business," he said.

The switch is reflected in the county's proposed 2008 budget as a new source of revenue for the Sheriff's Department, with $37,200 projected for the department next year. County Board members must approve the budget and a separate ordinance authorizing the new procedure.

Trawicki said officials have been discussing the change for several years but that it was opposed by then-District Attorney Paul Bucher. Bucher, who resigned last year after 18 years in office, said he could not endorse decriminalization while also working against drug abuse in programs such as DARE.

"I thought it sent out the wrong message for me personally," he said Thursday. "Philosophically, it wasn't consistent with my beliefs."

District Attorney Brad Schimel, however, said he believes that many people nowadays have tried marijuana and that residents of the county are ready for a limited level of decriminalization.

"I think times have changed," he said.

Sheriff's officials briefed a County Board committee on the idea recently while reviewing the 2008 budget proposal.

County Supervisor Bonnie Morris of Dousman, chairman of the Judiciary and Law Enforcement Committee, said the committee seemed to strongly support the idea.

Morris said many other municipalities in the area have already taken this step.

"It's not something that Sheriff Trawicki dreamed up," she said. "We're very comfortable with it."

Posted by Gary at 10:06 AM | Comments (0)

October 24, 2007

WI Assembly Speaker Huebsch assigns medical marijuana bill to Leah Vukmir’s Health committee to die

Posted by Gary Storck
Wednesday, October 24, 2007

I like to give people the benefit of a doubt. Just because past Republican Assembly Speakers including the morally bankrupt John Gard, the disgraced, convicted yet still unpunished Scott “Scooter” Jensen and even old Ben Brancel, have all assigned medical marijuana legislation to committees where they were assured the bill would die doesn't mean one shouldn't hold out hope that some enlightenment may have occurred.

Today, we learn that current Assembly Speaker Mike Huebsch is just as callous about the health of sick and dying Wisconsinites as his predecessors, as we find that the “Jacki Rickert Medical Marijuana Act” (AB 550), has been assigned to the Health and Healthcare Reform Committee chaired by arch-zealot Leah Vukmir click here. (try spell-checking her name in MS Word). Rep. Vukmir, (R-Wauwatosa), had vowed in a WI State Journal article in April to kill the bill if it was assigned to her committee:

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."

Before the bill was assigned to committee, I attempted several times to arrange a meeting with Huebsch’s staff and state patients to ask that the bill be assigned to a different Assembly health committee, Public Health, chaired by Rep. J.A. “Doc” Hines’ (R-Oxford). Rep. Hines had promised to give the bill a hearing, as is his custom. Our pleas for a meeting went unanswered.

This action is a slap in the face to the 80+% of Wisconsinites who support giving patients legal access click here. Speaker Huebsch has shown he’s a follower not a leader. He’s continued to play the same kind of hurtful partisan politics as Gard, Jensen, et al.

It’s also unwise politically, given the fact Democrats are targeting Republican moderates like Hines as they try to overcome the GOP’s slim 3-seat majority in the Assembly next November. Rather than assigning the bill to a committee chaired by a moderate, where it might have a hearing and demonstrate that all Republicans aren’t cold-hearted fanatics, it goes to a committee chaired by an extremist who has already vowed to kill it.

Posted by Gary at 10:42 AM | Comments (0)

October 23, 2007

California physician, cannabinologist David Bearman MD to speak at Escape Coffee on Nov. 12

Posted by Gary Storck
Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The upcoming informational hearing on medical marijuana by the Wisconsin State Senate's Health and Human Services Committee, chaired by Sen. Jon Erpenbach (D-Middleton), on Nov. 14, will bring three leading experts on medical cannabis to Madison.

Two of the experts, 5th legal federal IND medical marijuana patient George McMahon and Dr. Chris Fichtner, a psychiatrist and former Director of Mental Health for the State of Illinois, Department of Human Services, will only be in Madison for the Nov. 14 hearing.

The third, California physician and surgeon David Bearman, a UW alum and Rice Lake native, will be spending a few extra days in Madison.

To take advantage of this opportunity, Madison NORML's next scheduled regular meeting will instead be a lecture by Dr. Bearman on California's 11-year old medical marijuana law and how cannabis figures in his medical practice in Santa Barbara CA. Dr. Bearman will also be discussing and signing copies of his new book, Demons, Discrimination and Dollars.

What: Lecture, Reception and Book Signing for David Bearman MD

When: Monday, November 12, 2007, 7:00 pm.

Where: Escape Java Joint & Art Gallery 916 Williamson Street Madison, WI 53703

Posted by Gary at 11:18 AM | Comments (0)

October 16, 2007

Wisconsin Hemp Order: This Thursday evening in Ripon WI

Posted by Gary Storck
Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Folks from outside this little isle of cannabis sanity that is Madison often say something like, "Why are there no cannabis related events outside of Madison?"

There sometimes are, like this unique event coming to Ripon this Thursday night:

The Wisconsin Hemp Order

Thursday, October 18, 2007
Time: 7:00pm - 10:00pm
Location: Old White Schoolhouse
Street: Blackburn St. (US 23)
City/Town: Ripon, WI

Contact Info
Phone: 608.442.8830
Email: bmasel@tds.net


The Wisconsin Hemp Order was originally formed Oct. 18, 1917 in Ripon, WI to promote the industry in the State. We'll be gathering on the 90th Anniversary, in Ripon's Old White Schoolhouse, birthplace of the Republican Party, to mark the Anniversary and re-form the Organization.

Keynoting will be Dr. David West, plant geneticist, and the most recent holder of a Hemp license from the DEA.

Dr. Dave's Hemp Archive click here

(The focus of this event is on fiber, oilseed, etc. uses, not medical or recreational uses of cannabis.)

Posted by Gary at 02:10 PM | Comments (0)

October 10, 2007

Wisconsin's Fox Valley Scene's October issue: Is My Medicine Legal YET?

Posted by Gary Storck
Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Weeks before Harvest Fest, I was contacted by Jim Lundstrom from the Fox Valley Scene click here, who said they wanted to focus on Harvest Fest and cannabis/hemp in Wisconsin for their October issue.

The result is a set of great artickles, with the cover of the issue showing a small potted pot plant and the question, "Is My Medicine Legal YET?"


Read the articles online: click here.

Alternate location to read Scene articles: click here.

Posted by Gary at 12:20 PM | Comments (0)

October 09, 2007

Jacki Rickert Medical Marijuana Act final cosponsor total

Posted by Gary Storck
Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Rep. Mark Pocan’s office reports that a total of 11 Assembly Representatives and zero State Senators joined him and Rep. Frank Boyle in sponsoring LRB-2455/1 - Jacki Rickert Medical Marijuana Act.

The 2 sponsors and 11 cosponsors, 12 Democrats and 1 Republican, are as follows:

Rep. Frank Boyle (D - Superior)
Rep. Mark Pocan (D - Madison)
Rep. Terese Berceau (D - Madison)
Rep. Spencer Black (D - Madison)
Rep. Tamara Grisgby (D- Milwaukee)
Rep. Barbara Gronemus (D- Whitehall)
Rep. Joe Parisi (D- Madison)
Rep. Sondy Pope-Roberts (D- Middleton)
Rep. Marlin Schneider (D- WI Rapids)
Rep. Gary Sherman (D- Port Wing)
Rep. Dave Travis (D- Waunakee)
Rep. Jeff Wood (R- Chippewa Falls)
Rep. Josh Zepnick (D- Milwaukee)

LRB-2455/1, the Jacki Rickert Medical Marijuana Act, has now been sent to the Assembly’s Chief Clerk. It will then be given a bill number and assigned to a committee.

There are several possibilities as to which Assembly committee it might go into, including Health and Healthcare and Public Health. Health and Healthcare is chaired by Rep. Leah Vukmir (R-Wauwatosa). In remarks to the WI State Journal on April 10, 2007, Vukmir said this of a medical cannabis bill’s chances in Health and Healthcare:

But Rep. Leah Vukmir, R-Wauwatosa, who chairs the Assembly Committee on Health and Healthcare Reform, said she would 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."

Another possibility could be that the bill is assigned to the Public Health committee, chaired by Rep. J.A. Hines (R-Oxford) a moderate, whose staff indicates that the bill will receive a hearing, as is customary for him, but it may not receive a vote. Vukmir is that committee’s vice chair.

The lack of a lead cosponsor in the Senate means the bill will have to live or die in the Assembly. If Speaker Mike Huebsch (R-West Salem) sends the Jacki Rickert Medical Marijuana Act to Vukmir’s committee, the bill is likely dead on arrival.

The wild card is the Senate Health committee hearing on medical marijuana, scheduled for Nov. 14. While the hearing will not be on any specific legislation, it could raise the issue’s visibility enough to give it added life.

We’ll know which committee in about 7 to 14 days…

Posted by Gary at 06:52 PM | Comments (0)

October 08, 2007

Badger Herald: Marchers press for legal marijuana

Posted by Gary Storck
Monday, Oct. 8, 2007

The Badger Herald click here presents a look at Harvest Fest 37.

Estimates by organizers and others put the parade count as larger than last year. Little Marsh Overflow, who played on the Capitol steps both years, thought it was at least 20% larger. Record breaking temperatures and mostly sunny skies were a stark contrast to some recent Harvest Fests with chilly temps and even snow flurries. The last 3 years have been very comfortable.

The vibe was great. To me, it was as if the festival and parade were a bubble of freedom that had everyone in high spirits and smiling. But once the festival ended, the bubble burst, and things returned to normal marijuana prohibition status. Was anyone hurt by this freedom? Why aren't we free to indulge every day?

At the Capitol, I introduced local defense attorney Peter Steinberg, who led off a strong cast of speakers including Jacki Rickert, Ben Masel, WI Libertarian Party director Tim Peterson, the LP's Dave Hendricks, Nate and Courtney from UW Madison SSDP, MS patient Carolyn McDononough, who read a poem about the patient's plight, and J.T. "Osch" Oscwald.

Definitely a success and no reported cannabis arrests all weekend!

Source: Badger Herald
Pubdate: Monday, October 8, 2007
Author: Carolyn Potts


Nearly 300 people gathered on Library Mall this weekend for the 2007 Great Midwest Marijuana Harvest Festival and parade to the Capitol.

Harvest Fest has been put on by the Madison chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws for the past 37 years.

“The purpose of the Harvest Festival is to celebrate the harvest of marijuana, to keep lobbying for the legalization of this medically beneficial substance and to keep the tradition of the festival alive,” said Gary Stork, director of Madison’s chapter of NORML. “This is like a family — you come to the festival year after year and see the same people and get to know them.”

The event kicked off Friday night with the fifth annual benefit for “Is My Medicine Legal YET?” — an organization promoting the legalization of medicinal marijuana — at the Cardinal Bar in downtown Madison. The event had blues-roots music by The Whiskey River Band and special guests speaking about the benefit of marijuana for medicinal purposes.

The festivities continued Saturday with speakers and live music from six Wisconsin bands including Logarythm, Pistols at Dawn with Harissimo, Elf Lettuce, Tate and the 008 Band, Baghdad Scuba Review, and Nama Rupa.

Harvest Fest came to a close Sunday with more than 300 people marching to the Capitol to listen to music and hear more speakers.

NORML was founded in 1970 by Keith Stroup, with the goal of removing criminal penalties for the adult use of medical and recreational marijuana. Since then, the group has been lobbying for reform in marijuana laws across the country.

“The organization feels that marijuana should be legal because it is unconstitutional to prohibit the use of a natural substance, and the government should not have the right to tell adults what they should or should not put in their bodies,” Stork said. “Also, it provides a safer alternative to alcohol and does not encourage violence the way alcohol does.”

While there were many at the festival praising the use of cannabis, there remains strong opposition to the drug, including from some UW students.

“If they were to legalize marijuana, I feel that it would open the door to the legalization of all other drugs, and that would not be good,” UW freshman Amber Rassbach said. “There are enough problems with drugs now while they are illegal; if they were to legalize them they would be much more prevalent, and it could lead to more problems with drugs.”

Posted by Gary at 09:21 AM | Comments (0)

October 06, 2007

Wisconsin State Journal: Medical marijuana gets heavy support

Posted by Gary Storck
Sunday, October 6, 2007

Harvest Fest 37 is going well so far, with record breaking temperatures and sunny skies adding to the mellow vibes. There were so many smiles, beaming from attendees or just those passing by, including a bride and groom from a passing wedding party who briefly took the stage.

Medical marijuana patients were out in force too, with wheelchairs, walkers and scooters common sights on the Library Mall. The Wisconsin State Journal noticed the patient presence with this article by their medical/science reporter David Wahlberg.

Source: Wisconsin State Journal click here
Pubdate: Sunday, October 7, 2007
Author: David Wahlberg


Mary Powers of Madison takes marijuana to relieve nausea caused by AIDS and cancer.

Brian Barnstable of Milwaukee uses it to ease multiple sclerosis pain.

Both patients can get the pot they smoke and bake with on the black market, but they say medical marijuana should be legal.

"Why should it be so hard? " asked Powers, 48.

That question was the focus of the 37th annual Great Midwest Marijuana Harvest Festival Saturday on State Street Mall. The event continues at 1 p.m. today, with a walk to the Capitol at 3 p.m.

On Saturday, amidst booths selling hemp clothes and pot posters, medical marijuana supporters urged passage of a bill, which could be introduced in the state Legislature this week, that would legalize the use of the plant to treat many ailments.

"Every day, cannabis helps me live better, " said Gary Storck, of Madison, the organizer of the event, who uses marijuana for glaucoma and chronic pain. "Immediately when I take it I feel a good effect. "

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Frank Boyle, D-Superior, and Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Madison, likely will be introduced Monday, Pocan said last week. It is being called the Jacki Rickert Medical Marijuana Act after a woman who rode her wheelchair 210 miles from Mondovi to Madison 10 years ago to raise awareness of the issue.

Boyle, Pocan and others have introduced such legislation before. Rep. Leah Vukmir, R-Wauwatosa, chairwoman of the Assembly 's health-care committee, is an opponent who has vowed not to give the new bill a hearing.

Twelve states have legalized medical marijuana: Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.

Two years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the federal government 's ability to prosecute medical marijuana patients even in states that have made it legal. But most arrests for pot use are by local or state police, not federal officials.

June Dahl, a UW-Madison professor of pharmacy, said "there really isn 't any strong evidence " that marijuana relieves pain.

"But people who have pain have a lot of anxiety, and marijuana can have a calming effect, " she said.

Dahl said she opposes the legalization of medical marijuana because of the drug 's mood-altering effects and its lung-disease risks when smoked. Also, the pill Marinol, which contains the active pot ingredient THC, is available. And new pain medications are hitting the market, offering more alternatives, she said.

"There are huge implications to legalizing marijuana for patients, " she said. "For one, are you going to let them drive? "

Also, since THC is stored in the brain, Dahl asked, "Are you going to have mass spectrometers in police stations to measure it like Breathalyzers for alcohol? "

Meanwhile, the maker of Sativex, a mouth spray that contains THC and another active ingredient in marijuana, says a clinical trial is underway in the United States. The product has been available in Canada for two years.

Such developments aren 't good enough for patients such as Carolyn McDonough, 21, of Sun Prairie. She has been smoking and baking with marijuana since she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis two years ago.

McDonough said marijuana reduces the pressure behind her eyes, enables her to walk better and cuts down on her need to take muscle relaxants.

"I shouldn 't have to be a criminal for it, " she said.

Posted by Gary at 11:34 PM | Comments (1)

October 02, 2007

Eau Claire Leader-Telegram: Mondovi woman leads fight for medical marijuana

Posted by Gary Storck
Tuesday, October 2, 2007

The Eau Claire Leader Telegram finally weighs in on the upcoming introduction of the "Jacki Rickert Medical Marijuana Act". A good article with much background on Jacki's long fight for her medicine, and those who helped her. Then there are those who have stood in her way, like longtime Assembly medical marijuana nemesis and caucus scandal particuipant Scott Suder (R-Abbotsford). Suder is famous for his quote to a Milwaukee tv station in 2001 that "as long as he was chair of the Criminal Justice Committee, the bill was going nowhere!"

Suder actually has the gall to say that Jacki -- the leader of the medical cannabis movement in Wisconsin -- is "being used".

Here's what the compassion and ethics challenged Suder said:

"My heart goes out to (Rickert), but I don't want to see her used as a tool to create an avenue for those who simply want to smoke pot," Suder said. "I'm not saying that marijuana won't help some people who are suffering, but other medicine provides that help as well."

So very typivcal of the mindset of the Republican majority in the State Legislature over the last 14 years.

Rep. Scott Suder represents the lowest of the low, trying to put words in sick people's mouths to suit his own morally bankrupt ideology. Why the good people of his district continue to elect this slime is a big puzzle.

Until voters start to exercise some critical thinking, and voting, we'll keep replaying this sad story, and patients will keep on dying.

Give Scott Suder a call or send him an email or fax and let him know his cruelty is not the Wisconsin way!

(608) 267-0280 Or
(888) 534-0069
District Telephone
(715) 223-6964
(608) 282-3669
Source: Eau Claire Leader Telegram click here
Pubdate: 2 October 2007
Author: Brad Bryan Leader-Telegram staff


Democratic lawmakers hope law will get passed this time around

If medical marijuana legislation ever gets passed in Wisconsin, it will bear the name of Jacki Rickert of Mondovi - "if" being the operative word.

"She's been an incredibly persistent pioneer. Her stamina amazes me," said Rep. Frank Boyle, D-Superior, who along with Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Madison, introduced the Jacki Rickert Medical Marijuana Act at a news conference two weeks ago that went almost unnoticed.

A similar bill, which would have provided for the legal use of marijuana for medicinal purposes, died in committee in March 2006. So did bills in the 2003, 2001 and 1997 legislative sessions.

Boyle said increasing public awareness of the issue might make the fifth time a charm.

"I feel very sure that the state will finally come to its senses," Boyle said.

Boyle has been involved with Rickert and her cause for the last 14 years, even before her 210-mile wheelchair crusade in 1997 that took her to the state Capitol from the grave site of the Mondovi physician who first enrolled her in a now-defunct federal medical marijuana program.

"When I first met her, I was incredibly impressed with the sincerity of her cause," Boyle said.

As far back as high school, Rickert said, she has been suffering the debilitating effects of the genetic disorder Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and reflex sympathetic dystrophy. Both are chronic and incurable.

"(Doctors) don't know where one ends and the other beings," she said.

The ailments have left her in severe pain and confined to a wheelchair, and often to her modest, single-story home. Although she takes morphine for her pain, Rickert said marijuana saved her life.

"That we should deny marijuana for people like Jacki is unconscionable," Boyle said.

Rickert said when Dr. William Wright of Mondovi first tried to procure marijuana for her in 1990, she weighed 68 pounds. She said her then 19-year-old daughter, who was her constant and complete caregiver, told her that she looked as though she'd "just gotten out of a concentration camp."

Although she never received the 300 government-issued marijuana cigarettes that Wright had gone to great lengths to procure, she said, "cannabis angels" have supplied her "God-given medication" whenever she's needed it.

Boyle and Pocan's bill would allow patients with debilitating medical conditions to get marijuana, if authorized by their doctors. It provides a medical necessity defense for pot-related prosecutions and seizures, sets maximum allowable amounts, prohibits doctors acting in good faith from being arrested, and creates a marijuana-user registry.

Rep. Scott Suder, R-Abbotsford, said he opposes legalizing medical marijuana.

"I've always opposed Boyle's medical marijuana bill because it would only serve to add a loophole for those who want to claim medical purposes for smoking pot," Suder said. "Many of those trying to get medical marijuana approval simply want to smoke pot."

Rickert said "nothing could be further from truth."

"My heart goes out to (Rickert), but I don't want to see her used as a tool to create an avenue for those who simply want to smoke pot," Suder said. "I'm not saying that marijuana won't help some people who are suffering, but other medicine provides that help as well."

Suder said the legislation is too vague and has too many loopholes, but that he could consider voting for a tighter version without loopholes.

The Democratic-sponsored bill does have bipartisan support. Rep. Jeff Wood, R-Chippewa Falls, supports medical marijuana.

"I agree with them 100 percent," Wood said, referring to Boyle and Pocan, adding he co-sponsors the bill every time it comes around.

He said there is existing bias against marijuana and that other opiate-based prescription pain killers are just as bad, if not worse, than marijuana.

"I think that it's a bias that dates to a generation previous to mine," Wood said.

Bryan can be reached at 800-236-7077, 830-5840 or brad.bryan@ecpc.com.

Posted by Gary at 09:39 AM | Comments (0)