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December 30, 2007

A look back at Cannabis and Wisconsin in 2007: Part Two

Posted by Gary Storck
Sunday, December 30, 2007

Here is part two of my look at the year 2007 in cannabis in Wisconsin:

Sun 08 Jul 2007
Rare victory for the 4th Amendment in Wisconsin!

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

Read entire article: click here.

Tue 10 Jul 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

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.

Read entire article: click here.

Wed 25 July 2007
Steve Kagen votes to arrest medical marijuana patients: John Gard would approve

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

Final Vote Results For Roll Call 733

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,

Read entire article: click here.

Sun 29 Jul 2007
Ben Masel sues over June 2006 Union Terrace pepper spraying and arrest

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.

Read entire article: click here.

Thu 9 Aug 2007
Letter: Bridges fail while we focus on marijuana

The Minnesota bridge tragedy was preventable. Had the bridge been properly maintained and replaced when it became structurally deficient, the collapse and all its accompanying trauma would not have happened. The problem is, bridge safety was not a priority, but targeting people for arrest and punishment for possessing prohibited plants is.

Read entire article: click here.

Sun 12 Aug 2007
Dan Bice No Quarter Column: More deputies skitter under microscope

In early July, I passed along a column by the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel's investigative reporter, Dan Bice, about how a cannabis search in Milwaukee had been judged illegal click here. I called it a victory for the 4th Amendment, but this new column from Bice reports it was more complicated than that. Why not just tax and regulate it and free up the manpower to make our streets safer?

Read entire article: click here.

Sun 19 Aug 2007
37th Annual Great Midwest Marijuana Harvest Festival is just around the corner!

Summer's waning days in Madison means that Harvest Fest must be just around the corner. The 37th Annual Great Midwest Marijuana Harvest Festival will be held the weekend of Fri-Sun October 5, 6 & 7, 2007. The schedule appears below!

Read entire article: click here.

Mon 03 Sep 2007
Milwaukee Summerfest pot arrests dropping?

Since there is currently no organized NORML chapter in Milwaukee, I’ve been watching the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel for cannabis related news and found this report on Summerfest arrests. Daily arrest figures were also posted via MPD press releases during this year’s run. As a former Milwaukee resident in the late 70’s and early 80’s, it appears today’s Summerfest is much kinder and gentler to cannabis users as long as they are discrete. Back in the day, it seemed as if pot smokers were being arrested and jailed in droves. The majority of 2007 arrests were for underage drinking. Only about 6 folks per day were arrested for cannabis, and as the article below notes, most arrests occurred on the rocks along the lakeshor

Read entire article: click here.

Tue 4 Sep 2007
Journal-Sentinel's "Off the Cuffs" column makes light of medical cannabis patient's plight

Milwaukee's Journal-Sentinel includes a feature called "Off the Cuffs," described as, "Off the Cuffs chronicles small crimes, follies and foibles. It is compiled from police reports around the Milwaukee area".

Read entire article: click here.

Wed 12 Sep 2007
September 18th at the Wisconsin Capitol: Medical Cannabis Quest for Justice

Tuesday, September 18, 2007 marks the 10th anniversary of the date that Jacki Rickert, accompanied by 15 other medical cannabis patients and a support crew, reached the Wisconsin State Capitol after a weeklong wheelchair march from Mondovi WI, the 1997 Wisconsin "Journey for Justice".

Read entire article: click here.

Mon 17 Sep 2007
Jacki Rickert Medical Marijuana Act To Be Introduced Sept. 18

Below is the press release from Is My Medicine Legal YET? announcing the new Wisconsin medical cannabis bill being announced Tuesday at the Capitol!

Read entire article: click here.

Tue 18 Sep 2007
Quest for Justice recap

The Quest for Justice came off well today. While health issues and other snafus sliced the number of patients in wheelchairs down to a few, the "Last Mile" was well received as it made its way up State St, even garnering a standing ovation from a pair of older couples dining at an outdoor cafe.

Read entire article: click here.

Tue 25 Sep 2007
Badger Herald Editorial: A higher tolerance

The University of Wisconsin-Madison's Badger Herald follows up their great article about the Quest for Justice click here with this nice editorial supporting the Jacki Rickert Medical Marijuana Act.

Read entire article: click here.

Thu 27 Sep 2007
Letter: Capital Times: It's time for state residents to actively support medical marijuana bill

Yes, it really has been ten years since I had my first letter to the editor about medical cannabis published, and ten years since the WI Journey for Justice.

Read entire article: click here.

Thu 27 Sep 2007
Mondovi Herald News: Medical Marijuana Bill Named For Mondovi Resident

With the publication of this IMMLY-submitted article in the Mondovi Herald News, the Jacki Rickert Medical Marijuana Act (JRMMA) today received notice in both Madison and Mondovi newspapers on practically the same day.

Read entire article: click here.

Sun 6 Oct 2007
Wisconsin State Journal: Medical marijuana gets heavy support

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.

Read entire article: click here.

Mon 8 Oct 2007
Badger Herald: Marchers press for legal marijuana

The Badger Herald 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.

Read entire article: click here.

Tue 9 Oct 2007
Jacki Rickert Medical Marijuana Act final cosponsor total

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.

Read entire article: click here.

Wed 10 Oct 2007
Wisconsin's Fox Valley Scene's October issue: Is My Medicine Legal YET?

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 articles, with the cover of the issue showing a small potted pot plant and the question, "Is My Medicine Legal YET?"

Read entire article: click here.

Tue 16 Oct 2007
Wisconsin Hemp Order: This Thursday evening in Ripon WI

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:

Read entire article: click here.

Tue 23 Oct 2007
California physician, cannabinologist David Bearman MD to speak at Escape Coffee on Nov. 12

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.

Read entire article: click here.

Wed 24 Oct 2007
WI Assembly Speaker Huebsch assigns medical marijuana bill to Leah Vukmir's Health committee to die

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.

Read entire article: click here.

Sat 3 Nov 2007
County Marijuana Ordinances: Will Waukesha catch up to this quiet trend?

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.

Read entire article: click here.

Tue 6 Nov 2007
WI State Senate Committee Hearing on medical marijuana to be held Wed. Nov. 14th

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."

Read entire article: click here.

Wed 7 Nov 2007
LECTURE: Cannabis and Cannabinoids in 21st Century Medicine: Medical Marijuana in the Clinic

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.

Read entire article: click here.

Wed 15 Nov 2007
Badger Herald: Senate hearing on medical marijuana turns emotional

The Badger Herald continues their excellent reporting of the medical cannabis issue with this report on Wednesday's hearing.

Read entire article: click here.

Sat 17 Nov 2007
Video of WI State Senate Committee MMJ Hearing, Dr. Bearman UW Med School presentation, now online

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.

Read entire article: click here.

Mon 19 Nov 2007
IMMLY to Rep. Scott Suder: Provide Details Of So-Called "Loopholes" In Medical Marijuana Bill

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.

Read entire article: click here.

Mon 19 Nov 2007
Appleton Post Crescent Editorial: Medical marijuana law deserves consideration

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.

Read entire article: click here.

Wed 28 Nov 2007
"Society has changed" -- Waukesha County decriminalizes first-time marijuana possession cases

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.

Read entire article: click here.

Tue 11 Dec 2007
Rep. Scott Suder speaks with WI medical cannabis patients, agrees to keep talking

With the state legislature both in session and in special session today, it was a good day to visit the Capitol. Despite a snowstorm that left the Capitol dome snow topped, most if not all of the 132 state lawmakers were in the building under that dome.

Read entire article: click here.

Thu 20 Dec 2007
Wisconsin State Journal: Letter: Approve medical marijuana for pain

Here is my latest letter in the State Journal, just in time for the Holidays! In the print edition, it appeared on Page B2, above the fold, under a larger than 5 x 7 photo of CA medical cannabis activists protesting in LA on Oct. 11, with both the picture and letter on a darker background, and taking up most of the top of the page, with the bold title shouting out almost as if it were an admonition from the State Journal itself!

Read entire article: click here.

Conclusions, updates and a look ahead to 2008:

The bulk of Ben Masel's federal lawsuit against the University of Wisconsin over his arrest and pepperspraying for circulating nomination papers for the Democratic nomination for US Senate was dismissed in December, leaving only excessive force complaints against two UW police officers. An appeal is planned.

The year 2007 saw a number of positive developments for cannabis law reform in Wisconsin.

More counties and municipalities adopted local ordinances allowing the option of settling cases involving possession of small amounts of cannabis and paraphernalia as civil infractions. Amounts ranged from 8 grams in Manitowoc to 25 grams in Dane County, where DA Brian Blanchard initiated a new policy in early 2007 where all cases involving paraphernalia or less than 25 grams of herb were to be settled as county ordinance violations.

Assembly Bill 146, which would create a committee to study the uses of Industrial Hemp, is expected to receive a floor vote this session. According to the State Legislative Reference Bureau, the bill, if passed, requires the committee to review literature related to industrial hemp, to evaluate the economic opportunities for this state that could result from producing and using industrial hemp, and to report its findings and recommendations to the legislature.

Harvest Fest 37, held October 5, 6 & 7, 2007 went very well with temperatures in the mid-80's and an infectious mellow vibe that left anyone coming within 20 feet with a huge smile. Sunday's parade was both boisterous and joyful, and the entire event felt as if a bubble of freedom had formed over its locations in downtown Madison. The festival inches closer to its fifth decade with the 38th Annual Great Midwest Marijuana Harvest Festival, planned for October 3, 4 & 5, 2008 at all the usual locations.

2007 was a year of great progress on medical cannabis in Wisconsin. Early in the year, State Sen. Jon Erpenbach (D-Middleton), announced plans to hold an informational hearing on medical marijuana in the Senate Health committee he began chairing when Democrats regained control of the State Senate in Nov. 2006. The hearing, held Nov. 14, was the first state senate hearing on medical marijuana in over 25 years, since before passage of medical marijuana legislation in 1981. That legislation, signed into law by Republican Gov. Lee Sherman Dreyfus in 1982, was rendered symbolic by federal regulations.

The hearing featured testimony from two physicians and federal patient George McMahon as well as patients and one non-credible opponent.

McMahon had originally been scheduled to join Jacki Rickert on Sept. 18 as she and a crew of patients and supporters commemorated the 1997 Journey for Justice that she led with a 2007 "Quest for Justice" including a "Last Mile" march and roll up State St. to the Capitol. Later in the Capitol's Senate Parlor, State Reps. Mark Pocan and Frank Boyle announced introduction of the Jacki Rickert Medical Marijuana Act.

While the act gained bipartisan support, Assembly Speaker Mike Huebsch (R-West Salem) joined a long list of Republican Assembly Speakers who defied the will of the people of Wisconsin and assigned a medical marijuana bill to a committee chaired by an opponent who had already promised to block further progress, in this case, Assembly Health and Healthcare Reform, chaired by Rep. Leah Vukmir (R-Wauwatosa). Vukmir had in April 2007 famously proclaimed in the WI State Journal that the bill would not receive a hearing. In July, her office called Capitol police to eject Jacki and other patients.

But, while this all too familiar situation looks bleak, there is hope that progress is still possible. Rep. Scott Suder (R-Abbotsford), an opponent who claimed the Jacki Rickert Bill contained loopholes promised to talk to Rep. Pocan after meeting with patients outside the Assembly chambers. While Rep. Suder has not apparently yet met with Rep. Pocan, we hope he was sincere in both that promise and another to meet with patients.

The best hope for the "Jacki Rickert Medical Marijuana Act" at this time is citizen pressure. The bill will die in committee without a hearing. The bill's future lies in the hands of Assembly Speaker Mike Huebsch and the GOP Assembly leadership. Rep. J.A. "Doc" Hines (R-Oxford) has promised to give the bill a hearing pm his Assembly Public Health committee, if it were assigned there. Either the bill needs to be transferred to his committee, or Rep. Vukmir needs to reconsider and give the bill an open mind.

State medical cannabis supporters should call Speaker Huebsch and ask that the bill be moved to Rep. Hines' committee and they should call Rep. Vukmir and request that she put aside her bias and give the bill a hearing. This issue has over 80% support statewide and it is a slap in the face even to what passes for democracy these days to allow one close-minded representative to crush the hopes of patients and families for legal access to medical cannabis.

Medical cannabis patients and supporters are also planning to again vigil outside the Assembly Chambers during Gov. Jim Doyle's upcoming State of the State address, to be held in early January, to call upon the governor and lawmakers to make passage of the Jacki Rickert Medical Marijuana Act a priority in 2008. Details will be posted on this blog.

Beyond that, it appears a medical marijuana ballot initiative will be before Michigan voters in Nov. 2008. In Minnesota and Illinois, medical cannabis legislation is proceeding in state legislatures. If Wisconsin voters can cast out at least 3 or more Assembly Republicans next November, it is my opinion that next session may be the one. The downside of that is many patients will suffer and die in pain in the interim, joining those who have already been denied this therapy for decades. That is unacceptable, and the people of Wisconsin need to translate their overwhelming support for medical marijuana into action by demanding state lawmakers pass AB 550, the Jacki Rickert Medical Marijuana Act, this session!

Posted by Gary at 05:10 PM | Comments (0)

December 27, 2007

A look back at Cannabis and Wisconsin in 2007: Part One

Posted by Gary Storck
Thursday, December 27, 2007

A look back at Cannabis and Wisconsin in 2007: Part One

2007 began with some unfinished business from Harvest Fest 36, relating to the arrest at the beginning of the parade by a UW police officer of the passer and passee of a "white cylindrical object".

This incident, the only arrests at the annual free speech protected parade, ended up costing taxpayers untold thousands of dollars. After refilling the charges as felony distribution, the case was eventually settled as a county ordinance violation.

Tue, 13 Feb 2007
Marijuana Case Lights Up Court

Read entire article: click here
Source: The Capital Times

Wed, 28 Feb 2007
Harvest Fest alleged joint-passing case proceeds as felony distribution

Read entire article: click here

Wed, 14 Feb 2007
Picket at Courthouse before hearing, Judge rules as expected

More than a half dozen people, myself included, braved below zero windchills to picket the Dane County Courthouse this morning before the hearing in the Lankford case. Meanwhile, as the same time, DA Brian Blanchard was preparing to announce a new policy where all cannabis cases involving less than 25 grams as well as all paraphernalia cases would be filed as county ordinance violations. This contrasts to other Wisconsin counties and municipalities with local ordinances where they may choose to file criminal charges or use the ordinance.

Read entire article: click here.

Thursday, March 8, 2007
Bipartisan hemp bill introduced in Wisconsin

I was up at the Capitol today and stopped by Rep. Gene Hahn's office to find out if his hemp bill had been posted yet, and it was. Assembly Bill 146's sponsors include an impressive array of Wisconsin lawmakers from across the political spectrum, from liberal Democrats like Reps. Mark Pocan and Frank Boyle to conservative Republicans including Sen. Dale Schultz and Rep. Scott Gunderson. Schultz, who has cosponsored prior hemp bills, was the Senate majority leader last session, before it changed hands.

Read entire article: click here.

Fri 09 Mar 2007
Text of Dane County DA memo on new pot policy

For those who have not yet seen it, here is the memo from DA Blanchard that announced the change in policy. This originally appeared on the WTDY website.

Read entire article: click here.

Mon 12 Mar 2007
Eau Claire Leader-Telegram Editorial: Small marijuana cases shouldn't be prosecutors' priority

The editor of the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram, Don Huebscher, weighed in with this editorial supporting decriminalization policies at both the Dane and Eau Claire County DA's offices. It's good to see that the futility of cannabis prohibition is as evident to observers outside of Madison as to those here.

Read entire article: click here.

Wed 14 Mar 2007
NORML.ORG: Industrial Hemp Bill Introduced in Wisconsin

The National office of NORML just put out the following alert on Wisconsin's latest hemp bill, AB 146, with a link to send your state lawmakers a pre-written message asking for their support. Please take a moment to let state legislators know that it's time to let state farmers reap the economic benefits of cannabis hemp.

Read entire article: click here.

Tue 10 Apr 2007
State Journal: Board members rip marijuana prosecution

The rebuke of Brian Blanchard by Dane County Supervisors made the Wisconsin State Journal today. Blanchard is quoted as saying the Lankford prosecution is "sensible". I hope Dane County voters are filing these statements by Blanchard away for the next election, because each time he opens his mouth regarding this case he sounds more and more out of touch with the prevailing community sentiments.

Read entire article: click here.

Tue 10 Apr 2007
State Journal: After 30 years, another push to relax pot laws

Sandy Cullen from the Wisconsin State Journal wrote this fine article around Madison Ordinance 23.20 anniversary and Madison NORML's recent commemoration. The print version is accompanied by a 1979 photo showing Madisonians smoking a 3-foot long doobie at some cannabis event, and a more recent photo of a couple of young gents smoking white cylindrical objects while sitting at a table. Almost looks like it could be a cannabis coffeeshop, although it's apparently a private residence, although one can dream.

Read entire article: click here.

Thu 12 Apr 2007
Capital Times editorial: Madison & marijuana

The Capital Times on Wednesday published an editorial noting the recent anniversary of Ord. 23.20, and editorializing in favor of a statewide decriminalization law to "bring state law in line with local ordinances - and the clear intent of the citizenry."

Read entire article: click here.

Wed 18 Apr 2007
Special delivery for Rep. Vukmir!

State Rep, Leah Vukmir's outrageous comments about medical marijuana from an April 10, 2007 Wisconsin State Journal article have kind of hung in the air since I first read them over the phone to my friend Jacki Rickert:

Read entire article: click here.

Thu 19 April 2007
Hemp bill hearing and a busy day at the Capitol

Wednesday was a busy day at the Capitol, with the legislature in session and a number of public hearings scheduled throughout the day. In Room NW-328, the Committee on Rural Economic Development gave a good reception to Assembly Bill 146, which proposes the state study allowing farmers to produce agricultural hemp.

Read entire article: click here.

Mon 23 Apr 2007
Letter: DA Wastes Resources On Vindictive Pot Case

Sunday's Wisconsin State Journal, on Page C2, the Forum section, contains a kinder and gentler version of a letter I submitted about the Lankford hearing on Tuesday.

Read entire article: click here.

Mon 23 Apr 2007 4:20 p.m.
Lankford Hearing canceled!

I have just received word that the hearing scheduled for Tuesday at 10:30 a.m. for Chris Lankford has been canceled, as the DA has requested it be reset for a status conference. No further information is available at this time.

Read entire article: click here.

Fri 11 May 2007
Washburn Wisconsin decriminalizes possession of small amounts of cannabis

Yet another lakeshore Wisconsin community, this time tiny Washburn on Lake Superior in far northern Wisconsin, has joined other municipalities in decriminalizing possession of small amounts of cannabis. This has to be good news for a town with long winters that has seen harsh enforcement in the past.

Read entire article: click here.

Wed 2 May 2007
An open letter to Rep. Leah Vukmir, R-Wauwatosa from Jacki Rickert

With 2 weeks having passed since the delivery of Jacki's first letter to Rep. Vukmir click here, her second letter was emailed to Rep. Vukmir's office this morning. Will Rep. Vukmir continue to ignore Jacki's letters on behalf of Wisconsin patients, or will she have the integrity to respond this time?

Read entire article: click here

Thu 10 May 2007
Two Rivers City Council decriminalizes less than 8 grams of cannabis

Back in February I noted that Manitowoc was considering this move click here, and now the Manitowoc City Concil has passed it.

Read entire article: click here.

Fri 18 May 2007
Phillips Wisconsin Common Council adopts municipal ordinance for cannabis possession

Yet another Wisconsin community, this time Phillips in Price County in far northern Wisconsin, has adopted a municipal ordinance covering possession of cannabis. Phillips, with a population of around 1500, becomes at least the third community in Wisconsin to make possession of small amounts of cannabis an ordinance violation in a matter of weeks.

Read entire article: click here.

Sat 19 May 2007
Verona Press Police Report reveals motorist exercising 4th Amendment rights

Small town newspapers' police reports often make interesting reading, with the diverse and sometimes bizarre situations police officers encounter as they go about their duties. For example, this item, transcribed from the actual hard copy of the May 3, 2007 Verona Press, was preceded by an item about a cat stuck in a wall, and its promised rescue by a local carpenter police contacted.

Read entire article: click here.

Wed 23 May 2007
Dr. Tod Mikuriya's Wisconsin connections

The cannabis community is still reeling from the passing of Dr. Tod Mikuriya, a Renaissance man to say the least, as well as a walking library on the medical uses of cannabis and much more.

Read entire article: click here.

Wed 13 Jun 2007
Letter in USA Today: Medical marijuana is a key alternative

My friend Jim Miller gets an assist for a letter I had published in today's USA Today, with a print edition circulation of 2.5 million or so.

Read entire article: click here.

Wed 20 Jun 2007
MANITOWOC: Tickets for marijuana possession OK'd

In February, we passed along a report that the Manitowoc, Wisconsin city council was considering making first-time cannabis possession cases under 8 grams a city ordinance violation click here. On June 19, Manitowoc's Herald Times Reporter reported the city has now passed the ordinance.

Read entire article: click here

Thu 28 Jun 2007
DA settles Lankford case with County pot ticket

The felony case against Chris Lankford died with a whimper yesterday as the Dane County District Attorney's office finally dropped its reefer madness posturing and settled it as a Dane County ordinance violation and a $249 fine.

Read entire article: click here.

Posted by Gary at 02:36 PM | Comments (0)

December 20, 2007

Wisconsin State Journal: Letter: Approve medical marijuana for pain

Posted by Gary Storck
Thursday, Dec. 20, 2007

Here is my latest letter in the State Journal, just in time for the Holidays! In the print edition, it appeared on Page B2, above the fold, under a larger than 5 x 7 photo of CA medical cannabis activists protesting in LA on Oct. 11, with both the picture and letter on a darker background, and taking up most of the top of the page, with the bold title shouting out almost as if it were an admonition from the State Journal itself! Very nice positioning!

Source: Wisconsin State Journal
Pubdate: 20 Dec 2007
Author: Gary Storck


More pain clinics alone are not the answer to skyrocketing chronic pain rates. Scientific studies and clinical observations have long established marijuana as an effective treatment for pain. Cannabis has shown special efficacy in treating conditions like migraine and nerve pain that often do not respond to conventional medications and treatments.

Current law deprives health care professionals of this tool when compassion demands patients have legal access. Meanwhile, state legislation that would legalize this option, AB 550, the Jacki Rickert Medical Marijuana Act, remains stalled in the Assembly 's Health and Health Care Reform committees, where the chairwoman, Rep. Leah Vukmir, R-Wauwatosa, refuses to hold a hearing.

Assembly Speaker Mike Huebsch should pull AB 550 from Vukmir's committee and send it to the Assembly Public Health committee, whose chairman, Rep. J.A. Hines, R-Oxford, has pledged to hold a hearing.

An influx of veterans is swelling the ranks of Wisconsinites already struggling with pain and medical issues. Is the Legislature going to let them down, too? Gov. Jim Doyle indicated he would support a medical cannabis bill during his first campaign for governor in 2002.

Without quick action from the governor and legislative leaders, it appears Wisconsin families who need legal access to medical marijuana will not even see it this session.

-- Gary Storck, Madison

Posted by Gary at 12:45 AM | Comments (0)

December 14, 2007

Letter: Eau Claire Leader Telegram: Revive pot recommendation

Posted by Gary Storck
Fri. Dec. 14, 2007

Here is a letter I wrote in response to another cannabis-friendly letter, "Tobacco A Bigger Danger Than Pot," click here, that appeared in the Leader Telegram a week ago.

Source: Eau Claire Leader Telegram click here
Pubdate: 14 December 2007
Author: Gary Storck


The Dec. 7 letter headlined "Tobacco a bigger danger than pot" makes great sense in urging an end to marijuana prohibition.

An America where marijuana possession and distribution for personal use was legal was actually envisioned 35 years ago in a report by a Republican former Pennsylvania governor, Raymond Shafer, appointed by no less than President Nixon to head his National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse. In 1972, the Shafer Commission recommended to Nixon and Congress that the "possession of marijuana for personal use no longer be an offense, (and that the) casual distribution of small amounts of marijuana for no remuneration, or insignificant remuneration no longer be an offense."

Although our leaders have yet to heed the Shafer Commission's sensible recommendations, it's never too late to turn around and begin regulating marijuana like we have long done with alcohol and tobacco.

A system of regulated sales would create a new tax revenue stream that could help fund needed programs while eliminating expenditures in law enforcement, the courts and the prison-probation system. It would also create an entirely new legal industry with untold potential for job creation and economic development.

In these days of economic uncertainty, unending war and global warming, the lifting of marijuana prohibition would likely produce a collective uplifting of our bruised and battered national spirit unseen since the repeal of alcohol prohibition in 1933. Removing criminal penalties would also allow the medical use of cannabis to reach its full potential, reducing health care costs. Millions of otherwise law-abiding Americans are already using marijuana today. It's time to admit marijuana prohibition has only made things worse, and bring America's and Wisconsin's biggest cash crop above ground.


Director, Madison Chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws


Posted by Gary at 09:42 AM | Comments (0)

December 12, 2007

Daily Cardinal: Salvia bill demonizes harmless hallucinogen

Posted by Gary Storck
Wed., Dec. 12, 2007

While I try to keep the focus of this blog on cannabis, today's Daily Cardinal, a UW-Madison student paper, contains a very wise OPED questioning a proposal by two Assembly Democrats to prohibit the salvia divinorum herb in Wisconsin. One of the lawmakers, Rep. Sheldon Wasserman, is planning a run against a GOP incumbent for a state senate seat in Nov. 2008. Could there be a connnection? Anyways, this anti-business bill received no opposition at a hearing on Dec. 5. Despite that, this OPED makes a good case that banning Salvia is stupid.

Source: The Daily Cardinal click here
Pubdate: December 12, 2007
Author: Matt Jividen


Lawmakers fail to recognize that banning Salvia does not mean preventing its trade or usage

A new bill in the state Legislature aims to ban Salvia

There is a danger growing around Madison. And no, it isn’t the sexual assaults, kidnappings, bank robberies, murders or violence. According to state lawmakers (and probably Lou Dobbs), it is imports from Mexico that may be here illegally to destroy American culture and American youth.

I’m talking, of course about Salvia Divinorum—a non habit-forming herb that has historically been used in the Mazatec region of the Sierra Madre Mountains in Oaxaca, Mexico as part of ritualistic healing and prophecy rituals. Since the early 1990s, it has increased in popularity in the United States (although, to call (although, to call it popular is somewhat misleading.) State Representatives Sheldon Wasserman and David Cullen authored a bill that would prohibit the sale and manufacturing of Salvia Divinorum. The Assembly Criminal Justice Committee held a public hearing on the measure last Wednesday.

Currently, there is no Federal regulation on the herb. According to Bertha Madras, deputy director of demand reduction for the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, “Salvia Divinorum is so far down the list, it’s a tiny fraction of 1 percent.” Although Wasserman doesn’t seem to understand much about the herb, he feels it is dangerous. He says, “[Salvia] affects the way we think, the way we act. It impairs our judgment.” I will not dispute these facts, but I emphatically disagree that this is any reason for the government to mandate what citizens can and cannot consume.

While people might not be willing to get on board to defend the marginal Salvia herb, this struggle is symbolic of something far greater. The astute reader will no doubt remember that these same arguments were put forth nearly a century ago to prohibit Americans from imbibing Alcohol. However, the short-lived prohibition was left by the wayside because Americans believe it to be their constitutional right not only to enjoy delicious alcoholic libations, but also to choose what they would consume without governmental interference—on one condition: that it doesn’t present a clear danger to others. This sentiment is reflected in the imposed strict drunken-driving laws. In effect, this stance punishes the people who have proven incapable of moderate usage instead of punishing the majority who are capable of responsible and moderate use. But is that enough?

Does anyone else find it somewhat ironic that Wasserman would be so concerned with an herb that only a handful of people in Wisconsin use while a much more damaging drug actually effects Wisconsin on a grand scale? Right now, Wisconsin ranks No. 1 in the nation for adult binge drinking, and the percentage of high school students who drink is also well above the national average. Furthermore, MADD has ranked Wisconsin as the worst state in the nation as far as DUI deaths are concerned. By Wasserman’s logic as presented in this bill, alcohol should also be illegal in Wisconsin. But, don’t worry. I doubt they will ever prohibit booze… again. After all, “what made Milwaukee famous” sounds a lot better than “what made Milwaukee infamous.”

Just like prohibition in the 1920s, I doubt this legislation would stop the small contingent of Wisconsinites who enjoy Salvia responsibly. First of all, can police officers distinguish the plant from hundreds of different species in the genus Salvia? The plants are not typically grown in the same fashion as the easily recognized marijuana—Salvia grows well as a houseplant without expensive high intensity lights. This is just one of several logistical problems. The legislation is problematic on the grander scale as well. Making a drug illegal does not generally curb usage (especially if said drug is readily available in many adjacent states). With similar legislation, marijuana use has steadily increased since 1937—along with driving an estimated $6.2 billion industry underground in the United States.

This legislation will also hurt a handful of businesses in Madison and across the state, which begs the bigger question—who does this bill really help? I’m not equipped to answer that question, but perhaps this is just a manifestation of a government that has become half mother and half pusher-man.

It demonizes certain substances by making them illegal while condoning others. Most lawmakers turn a blind eye to state condoned drug dealing—alcohol, tobacco and prescription drugs. And, if I didn’t know they were honorable men, I might assume it has something to do with the massive alcohol, tobacco and pharmaceutical lobbies in the United States.

Matt Jividen is a senior majoring in history. Please send responses to opinion@dailycardinal.com.

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

December 11, 2007

Rep. Scott Suder speaks with WI medical cannabis patients, agrees to keep talking

Posted by Gary Storck
Tuesday, December 11, 2007

With the state legislature both in session and in special session today, it was a good day to visit the Capitol. Despite a snowstorm that left the Capitol dome snow topped, most if not all of the 132 state lawmakers were in the building under that dome.

So when the State Assembly took a recess to caucus early in the afternoon, I was positioned in front of one of two doors, along with two fellow Wisconsin medical cannabis patients, Mary, a 48 year old cancer/AIDS/HCV sufferer, and Brian, a multiple sclerosis patient and cancer survivor in his 40’s.

And suddenly, there he was, Rep. Scott Suder (R-Abbottsford), who had blocked a mmj bill in the Criminal Justice committee he chaired in 2002 and recently had been twice quoted in state press claiming the Jacki Rickert Medical Marijuana Act was full of “loopholes” click here.

Rep. Scott Suder (R-Abbottsford).

I introduced myself and Mary and Brian and told him about our medical conditions and how cannabis helped, and how his advocacy of keeping our medicine illegal was hurting patients. I showed him a photo of Mary and me with Lyn, a 21-year-old MS patient who we had talked to his staffer with on Oct. 3, and how Lyn was too sick to be there today.

The photo I showed Rep. Suder: Bud and Lyn, Gary, Mary, Oct. 3, 2007, State Capitol.

I noted that Mary, battling cancer, AIDS and HCV had been hospitalized until Sunday and yet came out in a blizzard to be at the Capitol today. I showed him a photo of Jacki Rickert and asked why he wanted to hurt her…I told him that some of us might not live to see next session, and that his opposition was helping ensure the bill would again die in committee without a hearing.

Suder responded by stating his opposition, “was not personal,” but was really unable to offer many specifics about the loopholes. He also claimed he was misquoted by the Eau Claire Leader Telegram, when they reported he 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." As the lively hallway debate continued, he cited the conflict with federal law. But, there was more. Confronted with the reality of seriously ill patients who need medical cannabis, Rep. Suder agreed to look further into things, to talk with Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Madison), one of the bill’s sponsors, about a workable compromise, as well as meet with me and other patients. While he cautioned that we now disagree and may still disagree later, he said we would talk.

Could this be a breakthrough? I don’t know. I do know that after over 5 years of feuding we started talking. We saw that we are all human. It is now up to Rep. Suder to continue the dialogue as promised. Scott, I'm waiting for your call!

Posted by Gary at 05:22 PM | Comments (0)

December 02, 2007

Phillips Bee: Medical marijuana, bogus or legit

Posted by Gary Storck
Sunday Dec. 2, 2007

Here is a nice article published in the Phillips Bee a couple weeks ago. It's good to see that the issue of medical cannabis and the need of patients like Jacki is getting coverage in the northwoods too.

Phillips is represented by Rep. Mary Williams (R-Medford) who is the sponsor of AB 146, the Industrial Hemp bill, which is rumored to be headed for a floor vote soon. The area's state senator is Sen. Russ Decker (D-Weston), the new Democratic majority leader in the Senate. Decker recently wrote a constituent stating he supported state medical cannabis legislation. Hopefully this article has and will trigger more constituents to reach out and ask these lawmakers to pass medical cannabis legislation this session.

Source: Phillips Bee
Pubdate: Tuesday, November 20th, 2007
Author: Sue Mergen / Editor/General Manager


Is your medicine legal?

Jacki Rickert’s isn’t. The Wisconsin mother suffers from several incurable medical conditions and says the only effective treatment is marijuana.

Rickert joined two state legislators and other medical marijuana supporters in late Sept. for a press conference to announce the introduction of new medical marijuana legislation.

It was a symbolic day for Rickert, as it marks the 10-year anniversary of the “Journey-for-Justice,” a 210-mile trek across the state Rickert and an entourage of medical marijuana supporters made in their wheelchairs that ended at the Capitol.

In honor of Rickert, Rep. Frank Boyle, D-Superior, and Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Madison, named the new legislation the “Jacki Rickert Medical Marijuana Act.”

Rickert is the founder and patient coordinator of Is My Medicine Legal Yet (IMMLY), a nonprofit group dedicated to spreading awareness, furthering access to and research of marijuana for medical use.

“We know it works. We know it’s not going to kill us,” Rickert said. “I have never had an allergic reaction to a God-given herb.”

IMMLY efforts are meant to support those with a variety of chronic and fatal medical conditions. If passed, patients would have to qualify with the Department of Health and Family Services to receive medicinal marijuana.

Victims of cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, persistent seizures and muscle spasms would be eligible to qualify for medical marijuana under this legislation.

If someone [has the] written consent of their physician or [has] obtained a valid registry card from the DHFS, … they would be allowed to have possession or be able to grow a certain amount of medicinal marijuana.

Medicinal marijuana, the IMMLY believes, can benefit people of all ages.

A similar version of the bill was introduced by Boyle and Pocan in 2001. Former Rep. Gregg Underheim, R-Oshkosh, introduced the legislation again in 2003 and 2005; however, it failed to progress through the Legislature on all three occasions.

“We want to make sure that this is the year Wisconsin gets it,” Boyle said. “Twelve states have now legalized medical marijuana, and I’m sick and tired of the state of Wisconsin dying a most regressive death in what used to be progressive tradition.”

Rep. Scott Suder (Rep.) -Abbotsford, said he opposes legalizing medical marijuana. “I’ve always opposed the bill because it would only serve to add a loophole for those who want to claim medical purposes for smoking pot. Many of those trying to get medical marijuana approval simply want to smoke pot.”


Senate hearing turns emotional

A state senate committee heard heated testimony last Wed., Nov. 14, 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 IMMLY.

"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. He said he believes there is plenty of research that proves this wrong.

Dr. David Bearman is one of thousands of medical doctors who supports legalizing pot for patients.

The fact of the matter is that 75-to-80 percent of Americans in any poll done in the last 25 years has favored the legalization of medical marijuana.

The California physician who graduated from the University of Wisconsin says it's next to impossible for patients suffering from debilitating pain to find a doctor to prescribe medical marijuana.

Dr. Bearman testified at an informational Health Committee hearing at the State Capitol in support of the controversial drug. As for prescribing legal painkillers for patients in pain, he says, if they can find one that even works, there are usually too many side effects, so patients must take other medications to alleviate those side effects, only to create new ones, which need more meds. He says these people are not criminals.

The federal government is expending precious federal dollars going around arresting people with multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease and failed back syndrome.

Dr. Bearman says he pre-screens each patient to make sure they have a well-documented, bona fide diagnosis. Opponents worry about the potential for abuse, saying people might use it for recreational use.

Bearman is originally from Rice Lake, Wisconsin. He graduated from the UW in '63 before eventually finding his way to California.

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

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

Storck and fellow IMMLY co-founder Jackie Rickert gave emotional testimony, during which 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."

The bill authored by Boyle and Pocan, 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.

Editors Note: Medical marijuana is currently legal in: Maine , New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Montana, Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico, Alaska, and Hawaii. In Wisconsin, a poll conducted by Chamberlain Research Consultants showed a 75.7 percent support for legislation to permit patients with serious illnesses to use marijuana for medical purposes with their physicians' approval.

Posted by Gary at 03:52 PM | Comments (0)