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November 28, 2007

"Society has changed" -- Waukesha County decriminalizes first-time marijuana possession cases

Posted by Gary Storck
Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Waukesha County has finally joined the ranks of Wisconsin counties that have adopted decriminalization ordinances. The 27-4 vote by the County Board removed one of the last vestiges of the harsh enforcement practiced by former Waukesha County District Attorney Paul Bucher and his predecessors. As most of the state’s most populous counties adopted county ordinances, Waukesha County clung to treating minor cannabis possession cases as crimes. This vote finally brings the county into step with most of the rest of the state, which has already quietly decriminalized minor possession at the county and municipal levels.

Waukesha County eases pot penalty
Those caught in possession can be cited, not charged
By SCOTT WILLIAMS
From the Nov. 28, 2007 editions of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel click here

Waukesha - Marijuana possession in Waukesha County for first-time offenders soon will be handled like a traffic offense rather than a crime.

The Waukesha County Board voted Tuesday to decriminalize such possession cases, with the maximum penalty a $1,000 fine.

Previously, all such cases were handled as misdemeanor offenses, punishable by up to six months in jail.

Milwaukee County and several municipalities already have decriminalized first-time possession as a way to ease punishment for offenders and relieve court congestion.

Some officials in Waukesha County, however, opposed the move as contradictory toward urging children and others to avoid illicit drug use.

The measure passed on a 27-4 vote.

Supervisor Rodell Singert of Vernon opposed the change, urging his colleagues to remember the anti-drug-abuse message of "Just say no."

"Let's get back to reality," he said. "There's a slippery slope here that needs to be reinforced by a severe punishment."

Others said decriminalization reflects the reality that small-time marijuana use is commonplace and no longer is widely regarded as criminal conduct.

"Society has changed," said Supervisor Jean Tortomasi of Waukesha.

With the change, sheriff's deputies will have the option of writing first-time offenders citations rather than arresting them and seeking criminal charges from the district attorney's office.

Charges still could be sought against repeat offenders, those caught with a large quantity of marijuana, or those believed to be drug dealers.

Both District Attorney Brad Schimel and Sheriff Daniel Trawicki supported decriminalization.

"We should listen to the professionals," said Supervisor William Mitchell of the Town of Waukesha.

Not only does the change mean a new way of handling certain drug cases, it means that any revenue from fines will stay in Waukesha County.

Previously, most revenue went to the state because the district attorney technically is a state employee.

The Sheriff's Department has budgeted for about $37,000 in fines next year expected to be generated through drug citations.

Supervisor Patricia Haukohl of Brookfield said the change will ease the paperwork, caseload and other administrative overhead for those in the criminal justice system.

She added: "It helps the D.A. get to the more serious cases."


Posted by Gary at 09:52 AM | Comments (0)

November 19, 2007

Appleton Post Crescent Editorial: Medical marijuana law deserves consideration

Posted by Gary Storck
Monday, November 19, 2007

The Appleton Post Crescent today editorialized in favor of AB 550, The Jacki Rickert Medical Marijuana Act. This is the first time in a long time the issue has been mentioned in the P-C. It's great to see one of Wisconsin's leading newspapers, from a rather conservative area, endorse this legislation. The mention of testimony at last week's Senate hearing illustrates the value of bringing in experts to help dispel the hysteria and lies that scare politicians into continuing to withhold this gentle medicine from those who need it today.

Newshawk: Is My Medicine Legal YET? www.immly.org
Source: Appleton Post Crescent click here
Pubdate: 19 Nov 2007

EDITORIAL: MEDICAL MARIJUANA LAW DESERVES CONSIDERATION

For Wisconsin residents suffering from cancer, AIDS and other diseases filled with pain and nausea, relief could come through puffs of a marijuana joint, due to the work of a few progressive-thinking lawmakers. But this will come to fruition only if other legislators can get past the stigma and fear of a drug that dates back before Nancy Reagan made her famous "Just Say No" pronouncement.

We're not talking about wholesale use of the drug, but rather allowing very small amounts for the grandmother suffering in hospice or the stage 4 cancer patient who has no appetite to get the nourishment he needs. Patients have reported that other drugs don't work as effectively as cannabis in alleviating nausea and pain associated with chronic and terminal illnesses. But if they use it, they face the same criminal charges as a recreational user.

The state Senate Committee on Health, Human Services, Insurance and Job Creation heard testimony last week both for and against medicinal marijuana. Gary Storck, director of the Madison chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, said he hopes the hearing will lead to the drafting of medical marijuana legislation in the Senate.

Earlier this fall, Reps. Frank Boyle, D-Superior, and Mark Pocan, D-Madison, introduced a bill that protects medicinal marijuana users — again with very small amounts of the drug for personal use only —from criminal prosecution.

While we understand the fear that drug dealers would abuse such a law, there must be a way to make the drug legally available to the chronically and terminally ill via their doctors. After all, doctors prescribe legal painkillers every day. The American Medical Association does not support marijuana use currently, but has encouraged further studies on its effectiveness in very ill patients.

Wisconsin legislators should look at ways to draft a responsible, comprehensive law that provides a humane alternative for people who are enduring great pain and suffering.


Posted by Gary at 09:28 AM | Comments (0)

IMMLY to Rep. Scott Suder: Provide Details Of So-Called "Loopholes" In Medical Marijuana Bill

Posted by Gary Storck
Monday, November 19, 2007

Below is a press release from Is My Medicine Legal YET? publicly calling on Rep. Scott Suder (R-Abbotsford) to reveal what he terms are "loopholes" in the Assembly Bill 550, The Jacki Rickert Medical Marijuana Act, and state his proposal for a workable bill, if he truly has one.

IMMLY TO REP. SCOTT SUDER: PROVIDE DETAILS OF SO-CALLED "LOOPHOLES" IN MEDICAL MARIJUANA BILL

November 19, 2007
Contact: Gary Storck, 608-241-8922

Madison - When asked by reporters about state medical cannabis legislation (AB 550, "the Jacki Rickert Medical Marijuana Act"), State Assembly Rep. Scott Suder (R-Abbotsford) has twice stated that he would support such legislation if unnamed "loopholes" were closed:

1) "Suder said the legislation is too vague and has too many loopholes, but that he could consider voting for a tighter version without loopholes." -- "Mondovi woman leads fight for medical marijuana," Eau Claire Leader Telegram, 2 October 2007.

2) "I think the legislation leaves a huge loophole for those who want to experiment with marijuana," Suder said. "Many of us are willing to take a look at the legislation, but the language needs to be tightened to prevent abuse." -- "Senate To Hear Pros, Cons Of Legalizing Medical Marijuana", Badger Herald, 14 November 2007.

On Wed. Oct. 3, after Rep. Suder's comments in the Leader-Telegram, a delegation of three medical cannabis patients visited his office and offered to meet with Suder to discuss his so-called "tighter version without loopholes". There was no response from Rep. Suder. On Nov. 15, quoted in the Badger Herald, Rep. Suder again offered to support a version with tightened language, but again did not explain what he meant.

If Rep. Suder is truly sincere about the health and well being of Wisconsin families battling serious illness today, he should immediately provide those details while there is still time this session to introduce his version of the bill. Patients need medical cannabis today and each day that passes while Rep. Suder is talking about a hypothetical vague proposal, people are suffering and dying needlessly and their families are grieving. We call on Rep. Suder to immediately disclose the details of his medical cannabis proposal, if he truly has one. With the holidays fast approaching, a breakthrough on medical cannabis legislation would be a very welcome gift for thousands of seriously ill Wisconsinites and their families and friends. It's now up to Rep. Suder to demonstrate his proposal is real and not just empty rhetoric to try to justify his opposition to AB 550, the Jacki Rickert Medical Marijuana Act and legal access to medical cannabis in general.

Is My Medicine Legal YET? is a Mondovi and Madison based grass roots patient and caregiver organization dedicated to advancing public education about the medicinal benefits of marijuana. For further information contact Gary Storck at 608.241.8922 or Jacki Rickert at 715.926.4950 or visit the IMMLY website at www.immly.org.

-30-

Posted by Gary at 12:05 AM | Comments (0)

November 17, 2007

Video of WI State Senate Committee MMJ Hearing, Dr. Bearman UW Med School presentation, now online

Posted by Gary Storck
Saturday, November 17, 2007

Video records of two of three of the medical cannabis events in Madison from Nov. 12-14 are now available online in video and audio.

Dr. Bearman’s University of Wisconsin Medical School presentation can be found here.

David Bearman, MD, a Santa Barbara, California physician and surgeon with Wisconsin roots, speaks on "Cannabis and Cannabinoids in 21st Century Medicine: Medical Marijuana in the Clinic".

Bearman is one of the leading physicians in the U.S. in the field of medical marijuana. He has spent 40 years working in substance and drug abuse treatment and prevention programs. Bearman was a pioneer in the free and community clinic movement.

As I type at 11:47 am CDT on 11/17, it is so popular it already has 219 hits and is quickly approaching the Top Ten most viewed videos after being online a little over a day!

Wednesday's State Senate Committee hearing is also now archived at Wisconsin Eye click here.

11.14.07 | Senate Committee on Health, Human Services, Insurance, and Job Creation

The Committee heard testimony on the use of medical marijuana. The following individuals were invited to speak: George McMahon, Since 1990, Mr. McMahon has received a monthly prescription for medical marijuana from the federal government for the treatment of a rare, painful medical condition called Nail-Patella Syndrome. Dr. Christopher G. Fichtner, Associate Professor of Clinical Psychiatry-University of Chicago, President of WellMindHealth, former Director of Mental health for the Illinois Department of Human Services. Dr. David Bearman, California physician who operates a medical practice specific to medical marijuana patients. Public testimony will be allowed following the three invited speakers.

Here is a direct link to the video itself: click here.

Posted by Gary at 11:40 AM | Comments (0)

November 15, 2007

Badger Herald: Senate hearing on medical marijuana turns emotional

Posted by Gary Storck
Thursday, Nov. 15, 2007

The Badger Herald continues their excellent reporting of the medical cannabis issue with this report on Wednesday's hearing. Wisconsin Radio Network's Jackie Johnson also filed a report with audio click here.

The video of the hearing will also be archived at WisconsinEye.com.

Source: Badger Herald
Pubdate: Thursday, November 15, 2007
Author:Ken Harris

SENATE HEARING ON MEDICAL MARIJUANA TURNS EMOTIONAL

A state Senate committee heard heated testimony Wednesday morning at the Capitol both for and against medicinal marijuana.

The Committee on Health, Human Services, Insurance and Job Creation held a public information hearing about medical marijuana featuring testimony from three “expert witnesses” followed by responses from the public.

Sen. Jon Erpenbach, D-Middleton, who chairs the committee, said he was approached with the idea to hold the hearing “years ago” when he first took office, by Gary Storck, co-founder of Is My Medicine Legal Yet?

“I’ve asked questions of a lot of doctors and … a slim majority of them seem to think if that’s what’s going to make the patient feel better and control the pain better they’re not opposed to it,” Erpenbach said. “Some are opposed to it simply because, as they put it, there is no scientific proof.”

The two key witnesses in favor of medicinal marijuana were David Bearman, a practicing physician from Santa Barbara, Calif., and Chris Fichtner from Illinois. Fichtner is a psychiatrist who is the former head of mental health for the Illinois Department of Health and Human Services.

According to Bearman, one of the biggest problems with legalizing marijuana is the stigma that surrounds the substance. The federal government has labeled it a “schedule one substance” along with other drugs deemed not medically beneficial. Bearman said he believes there is plenty of research that proves this wrong.

“It’s still an uphill battle to remove that stigma,” Bearman said.

Addressing concerns of the committee, Bearman said marijuana is not physically addictive, causing less dependency than coffee.

“The abuse potential is extremely low,” Bearman said.

Following Bearman’s testimony, Fichtner said there is no outlet for the discussion of marijuana outside the realm of substance abuse. He said there needs to be legal research performed to make marijuana and all the chemicals in it specialized to treat different types of ailments — but such research is not allowed right now.

Fichtner also addressed a Yale study that linked marijuana use to increased psychotic brain activity. He called the findings of the study misleading and said the methods were flawed.

In response to a question from the committee, Fichtner addressed the argument that marijuana serves as a “gateway” for users to try other, more dangerous drugs.

According to Fichtner, alcohol has proven, in studies, to serve as a gateway drug at a much higher rate than marijuana.

“There is not good evidence for cannabis as a gateway drug,” Fichtner said.

Storck and fellow IMMLY co-founder Jackie Rickert gave emotional testimony, as Rickert fought to hold back the tears as she described her physical ailments and how marijuana has allowed her to play with her grandchildren.

Donna Daniels, state coordinator for Parent Corps, a national drug prevention program, spoke in opposition to the idea of legalizing the substance for medical use.

“Research has shown that marijuana is an addictive substance,” Daniels said. “Making medical marijuana legal is a stepping-stone to other legalization.”

Posted by Gary at 09:30 AM | Comments (0)

November 14, 2007

Badger Herald previews today's State Senate medical cannabis hearing

Posted by Gary Storck
Wed., Nov. 14, 2007

After months of anticipation, the day of the State Senate committee hearing on medical marijuana has finally arrived. Below is a preview of the hearing from the Badger Herald.

Source: Badger Herald click here
Pubdate: 14 November 2007
Author: Jessi Polsky

SENATE TO HEAR PROS, CONS OF LEGALIZING MEDICAL MARIJUANA

The controversial issue of medical marijuana is the topic of an informal Wisconsin state Senate hearing at the Capitol Wednesday.

The hearing will feature testimony by three experts leading the battle to legalize medical marijuana. Following the speakers, the floor will be open for discussion.

Medical marijuana legislation was passed in the state Legislature in 1982, but the bill was only symbolic in its passage because it required but did not receive support from the federal government.

Gary Storck, director of the Madison chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, said a medical marijuana user in Wisconsin would face criminal charges if caught with the illegal substance.

“Now a medical marijuana patient in Wisconsin faces the same predicament a recreational user would face,” Storck said.

The hearing today is not in support of a specific bill, but rather to discuss this controversial health care matter. According to Storck, because Republicans have been in control of the Senate from 1993 until this past election, past bills encouraging the legalization of the drug for medical use have died in the Capitol.

“The GOP tends to vote as a block even though the individuals who elect them say they support marijuana,” Storck said. “Hearing it in the Senate where the Democrats are in control gives the issue new light.”

The informal hearing, Storck added, will hopefully lead to the drafting of medical marijuana legislation in the Senate.

“The hearing will clear up the mythology,” Storck said. “It paves the way for a Senate Bill next session. Gov. Doyle said he would sign a bill if it reaches his desk.”

Expert witnesses are going to answer questions in hopes of dispelling rumors commonly associated with marijuana. Storck said those who testify will help show the community that marijuana can be used for medical proposes and thus, should be treated like any other medical drug.

“If there was other medications we could take, we’d be glad to do it,” Storck said. “[Marijuana] is the safest medicine for us.”

Medical marijuana user George MacMahon will act as an expert witness at the hearing. The federal government sends him 300 pre-rolled marijuana cigarettes, totaling 11 ounces, every month. Storck said the program he receives the drug through was closed to new applicants in 1992.

Storck said David Bearman, a medical marijuana specialist, and Chris Fichtner, psychiatrist and expert on medical marijuana, will also testify in support of legalizing the drug for medical proposes in Wisconsin.

But not all legislators support medical marijuana legislation, specifically the Jacki Rickert Medical Marijuana Act — a bill in the Assembly that would permit those with debilitating medical conditions small amounts of marijuana. Rep. Scott Suder, R-Abbotsford, said he is hesitant to support the bill because of the potential for recreational users to abuse the law.

“I think the legislation leaves a huge loophole for those who want to experiment with marijuana,” Suder said. “Many of us are willing to take a look at the legislation, but the language needs to be tightened to prevent abuse.”

The informal hearing is being held in room 411 South of the Capitol Wednesday at 11 a.m.

Posted by Gary at 07:55 AM | Comments (0)

November 07, 2007

LECTURE: Cannabis and Cannabinoids in 21st Century Medicine: Medical Marijuana in the Clinic

Posted by Gary Storck
Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Thanks to Dr. Bearman extending his stay several days, he is now scheduled to give a lecture at the UW-Madison Medical School on Tuesday, Nov. 13, the day before the hearing.

Download Event flier: Download file

LECTURE: Cannabis and Cannabinoids in 21st Century Medicine: Medical Marijuana in the Clinic

· Who: David Bearman M.D., Santa Barbara, California

· When: Tues., Nov. 13, 2007, 12:00-1:00 PM

· Where: Room 1335, Health Sciences Learning Center

Dr. David Bearman, a Santa Barbara, California physician and surgeon with Wisconsin roots, will be speaking at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health on Tues., Nov. 13. Dr. Bearman's presentation is entitled, "Cannabis and Cannabinoids in 21st Century Medicine: Medical Marijuana in the Clinic". Dr. Bearman will be speaking from 12:00-1:00 PM in room 1335 of the Health Sciences Learning Center, 750 Highland Avenue, Madison, WI 53705.

Dr. Bearman is one of the leading physicians in the U.S. in the field of medical marijuana. He has spent 40 years working in substance and drug abuse treatment and prevention programs. Dr. Bearman was a pioneer in the free and community clinic movement. His career includes public health, administrative medicine, primary care, pain management and cannabinology. He is on the Board of Advisors for the group Patients Out of Time [http://www.medicalcannabis.com/] and worked closely with them to present the Fourth National Clinical Conference on Cannabis Therapeutics in Santa Barbara, CA in April 2006.

Dr. Bearman is also scheduled to join two other medical marijuana experts testifying at a hearing of the Wisconsin State Senate Health and Human Services committee at 10:30 AM on Wed. Nov. 14 at the State Capitol Room 411 South. On Mon., Nov. 12 at 7:00 PM, Dr. Bearman will talk about medical marijuana and sign copies of his new book, "Demons, Discrimination and Dollars," at Escape Coffee, 916 Williamson St., on Madison's East Side.

Contact Information for David Bearman, M.D. 805-961-9988, 7394 Calle Real, Suite C Goleta, CA 93117, http://www.davidbearmanmd.com/.

For further information, contact 608-241-8922.


Posted by Gary at 10:29 AM | Comments (0)

November 06, 2007

WI State Senate Committee Hearing on medical marijuana to be held Wed. Nov. 14th

Posted by Gary Storck
Tuesday, November 06, 2007

It has been a long time, over 25 years, since any kind of hearing on medical marijuana was held in the State Senate. Next Wednesday, November 14, 2007, State Sen. Jon Erpenbach will hold a hearing on medical marijuana in the Senate Committee he chairs, “Health, Human Services, Insurance, and Job Creation.”

The hearing will not be on any specific piece of legislation, such as AB 550, the Jacki Rickert Medical Marijuana Act, but will be on the issue itself.

In comments published in the October issue of the Appleton monthly, The Scene, Sen. Erpenbach said this about the hearing:

“I think there are a lot of misperceptions out there about medical marijuana. This is the first time I’ve actually chaired the health committee, but I’ve always wanted to hold an informational meeting on it.”

“The whole idea is to get the idea out there. I think if we just introduced a bill without shining some light on it first, it would be a little more difficult to pass legislation.”

The hearing will feature three invited guests; George McMahon, who has received legal medical marijuana from the US government since 1990, Dr. David Bearman, a Rice Lake WI native and UW Alum who specializes in medical marijuana in his California practice, and Dr. Chris Fichtner, an Illinois psychiatrist and former head of Mental Health for the State of Illinois Dept. of Human Services.

Following their testimony, the public will be allowed to testify.

Link to Original Notice: click here

Senate

INFORMATIONAL HEARING

Committee on Health, Human Services, Insurance, and Job Creation

The committee will hold an informational hearing on the following items at the time specified below:

Wednesday, November 14, 2007
10:30 AM
411 South
State Capitol

The Committee will hear testimony on the use of medical marijuana. The following individuals have been invited to speak: George McMahon- A legal medical marijuana recipient. Since 1990 Mr. McMahon has received a monthly prescription for medical marijuana from the federal government for the treatment of a rare, painful medical condition called Nail-Patella Syndrome. Dr. Christopher G. Fichtner, Associate Professor of Clinical Psychiatry-University of Chicago, President of WellMindHealth, former Director of Mental Health for the Illinois Department of Human Services. Dr. David Bearman-California physician who operates a medical practice specific to medical marijuana patients.

Public Testimony will be allowed following the three invited speakers.

Senator Jon Erpenbach
Chair

Posted by Gary at 02:15 PM | Comments (1)

November 03, 2007

County Marijuana Ordinances: Will Waukesha catch up to this quiet trend?

Posted by Gary Storck
Saturday, November 03, 2007

The news that Waukesha County is seriously contemplating a county marijuana ordinance click here inspired me to research how common these county ordinances have become in Wisconsin.

What I found was that not only have counties and municipalities all over the state passed ordinances, but that 14 of the 16 most populous counties have them, including 4 of the top 5, and 9 of the top 10. While prosecutors retain the option of filing more serious charges, county ordinance citations for small amounts of cannabis have quietly become widespread, from Superior to Kenosha, and quite a few localities in between.

Here is a list of the Ten most populous counties and their status:

County/Population, 2006 estimate
CO = County Ordinance

(1) Milwaukee 915,097 CO.
(2) Dane 463,826 CO.
(3) Waukesha 380,985
(4) Brown 240,213 CO.
(5) Racine 196,096 CO.
(6) Outagamie 172,734 CO.
(7) Kenosha 162,001 CO.
(8) Winnebago 160,593 CO.
(9) Rock 159, 153 CO.
(10) Marathon 130,223 CO.

Posted by Gary at 11:47 AM | Comments (0)