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March 26, 2008

The Daily Page: Comp Time with Gary Storck: Medical marijuana advocate knows how hard it can be

Posted by Gary Storck
Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Thanks to Nathan Comp of the Isthmus for this interview updating what became of the Jacki Rickert Medical Marijuana Act.

From The Isthmus: click here

COMP TIME WITH GARY STORCK

Medical marijuana advocate knows how hard it can be

Nathan J. Comp

Photo Caption: Storck: 'We're just people trying to take care of our lives and marijuana is the only thing that works.'

Chronically ill and in pain, Gary Storck says marijuana is the only thing that brings him relief. Unfortunately for Storck and many others, doctors can't prescribe it.

Storck, 52, has worked tirelessly over the last 30 years to get medical marijuana legislation passed in Wisconsin. His latest effort, like his previous ones, failed when the state's legislative session ended two weeks ago.

So far, 14 states have legalized marijuana for medicinal use.

Storck spoke with The Daily Page about why medical marijuana is a tough sell in Wisconsin.

The Daily Page: How was the medical marijuana bill railroaded this time?

Storck: Rep. Leah Vukmir, the chairwoman of the Healthcare and Healthcare Reform committee, stated a year ago that the bill would not pass out of her committee. That alone did not kill it. That was the bidding of Speaker Mike Huebsch and Majority Leader Jeff Fitzgerald, who could've sent it to another committee, such as Rep. J.A. Hines's Public Health committee. Rep. Hines had promised to give the bill a fair hearing. So Huebsch and Fitzgerald made the decision to put it in Vukmir's committee knowing full well it would die there.

How difficult is it to find sponsors to introduce medical marijuana legislation?

We're fortunate to have in the Assembly the two representatives who are reliable co-sponsors of this legislation. I consider them real heroes. They're Rep. Frank Boyle and Rep. Mark Pocan. I'm really proud of them for sticking up for patients.

Have you ever persuaded a politician opposed to it to switch sides?

Scott Suder. He'd been a long time opponent of medical marijuana. He was quoted as saying the patients at the press conference announcing the bill were tools being used to legalize marijuana for all uses. We found that very offensive, so we confronted him one day as he left the Assembly chambers.

I think we got through to him that we're just people trying to take care of our lives and marijuana is the only thing that works. Since then he actually became more open to it. He spoke with Mark Pocan and he talked to Jacki Rickert, who the legislation was named after, for 30 minutes on the phone one night, which is amazing because she couldn't even get her own state senator, who's a Democrat, to talk to her for 10 minutes.

Looks like our neighboring states have some promising legislation in the works.

Yeah, I'm really excited. It's almost certain that medical marijuana will be on the ballot in Michigan. That means, this November, the people of Michigan will have the chance to vote on it. Not only that, but in Minnesota, efforts are underway in the Legislature, and a similar bill passed committee in Illinois a few weeks ago, so it's on the move there again.

At its core, medical marijuana seems to be a human rights issue. So, why are politicians reluctant to get on board?

I don't know. There was a hearing in the state senate this session as well. I worked with Sen. Jon Erpenbach who chairs the Senate Health Committee and he had me bring in extra witnesses. Unfortunately, it was just an informational hearing and the only senator who stuck around for the whole thing was Jon Erpenbach. The other senators weren't even there to listen. We spent a couple thousand dollars bringing in these great experts who could've answered any questions they had and they weren't there. I've said this bill was killed by the Republican leadership in the Assembly, but there's some blame to be spread around Democrats, too.

Posted by Gary at 03:34 PM | Comments (0)

March 25, 2008

Green Bay: Cannabis-scented cash triggers flurry of charges

Posted by Gary Storck
Tuesday, March 25, 2008

With the cannabis plant's outlaw status, in spite of its vast utilities, there are always news articles to be found about the strange ways people with cannabis get busted. Here's a sad tale out of the Green Bay area where the wonderful aroma of cannabis led to big trouble.

From the Green Bay Press Gazette: click here.
Money smells funny, so he's busted for pot
March 24, 2008

STURGEON BAY -- The smell of money led to the arrest last week of a 21-year-old Sturgeon Bay man on suspicion of possessing marijuana with intent to deliver.

The money the man tried to deposit at a Sturgeon Bay bank on Tuesday reeked of marijuana, according to a Sturgeon Bay police report.

The odor was not the distinctive odor of the burned weed, but the musty smell of ground sweet leaves, the report said.

The odor was so noticeable and so distinctive that a teller put the cash — $4,000 in bundled bills — into a plastic bag.

The contact between the bills and marijuana was so intense that when Sturgeon Bay police tested a bill, the chemicals reacted positively for marijuana, according to the report.

The man was arrested when he returned to the bank to make a withdrawal.

“All the pieces just came together,” Police Chief Dan Trelka said.

Read Entire Article: click here.


Posted by Gary at 11:33 AM | Comments (0)

March 24, 2008

Obama: best candidate on medical cannabis?

Posted by Gary Storck
Monday, March 24, 2008

While campaigning in Oregon, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama took a very compassionate position towards medical cannabis in an interview with the Medford OR Mail Tribune.

Obama's remarks contrast sharply with Republican candidate John McCain, who has vowed never to allow it, as well as Obama's Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, who has publicly questioned whether cannabis has medicinal value and pushed for pharmaceuticalization of cannabis rather than allowing patients to choose to use whole herbal cannabis (see video below).


From the Medford OR Mail Tribune: click here click here March 23, 2008:

Q: A couple of other issues of interest to Oregonians involve initiatives passed by the voters that have come into conflict with the federal government: physician-assisted suicide and medical marijuana. Do you support those two concepts?

A: I am in favor of palliative medicine in circumstances where someone is terminally ill. ... I'm mindful of the legitimate interests of states to prevent a slide from palliative treatments into euthanasia. On the other hand, I think that the people of Oregon did a service for the country in recognizing that as the population gets older we've got to think about issues of end-of-life care. ...

As for medical marijuana ... I'm not familiar with all the details of the initiative that was passed, but I think the basic concept of using medical marijuana for the same purposes and with the same controls as other drugs prescribed by doctors, I think that's entirely appropriate. ...

I'm not going to be using Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state laws on this issue.

(snip)

Posted by Gary at 11:34 AM | Comments (0)

March 19, 2008

Capital Times: Letter: Ralph Givens: The plain truth is: Medical pot works

Posted by Gary Storck
Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Our friend Ralph Givens reaches out from the San Francisco Bay Area with this frank defense of medical cannabis.

Source: Capital Times click here
Pubdate: 19 March 2008
Author: Ralph Givens

THE PLAIN TRUTH IS:MEDICAL POT WORKS

Dear Editor: One fact Tyler Zellmer omitted in advocating for medical marijuana use is that it is impossible to take a Marinol pill or to eat a marijuana brownie when you are puking your guts out from chemotherapy. Trust me, the pills come shooting out like mung beans out of a pea shooter.

The nausea relief provided by a few puffs of marijuana is the only reason many people are able to endure their cancer treatments.

Anyone who stands in the way of medical marijuana has spiraled into a moral black hole where lies trump the plain truth.

Ralph Givens

Daly City, Calif.

Posted by Gary at 01:02 PM | Comments (0)

March 14, 2008

One more letter in the Capital Times: GOP control must end for medicinal pot to pass

Posted by Gary Storck
Friday, March 14, 2008

Like many others in Madison and beyond, I'm saddened by the pending demise of the Capital Times as a daily paper. I had my first letter about medical cannabis published in the Cap Times in Sept. 1997, "Legalization Of Medical Pot Overdue", click here, and this one from today marks my 49th letter they have published. I have had hundreds of letters published all over, but no one paper has opened their editorial page more to me than the Capital Times over the last decade. I salute the Cap Times, and hope their tranformation to a mostly online venture will be successful, and that they continue to be a venue for progressive thought.

So, Thanks TCT, for one more...

Source: Capital Times click here
Pubdate: March 14, 2008

GOP CONTROL MUST END FOR MEDICINAL POT TO PASS

Dear Editor: Thanks to Tyler Zellner for a great letter advocating legal access to medical marijuana.

One point that needs clarification. There actually was medical cannabis legislation in the Legislature this session. Assembly Bill 550, the Jacki Rickert Medical Marijuana Act, was introduced last September and named in honor of Rickert, a longtime Wisconsin medical cannabis patient/activist.

Unfortunately, the bill, like other unfinished business, expired as of Thursday and the Assembly's GOP leadership once again did not allow a hearing or a vote in committee. This has happened nearly every session dating back to when the Republicans gained control of the Assembly in 1993.

Two weeks ago, Michigan certified signatures for a ballot initiative that will likely put this issue before its voters this November. Every time this issue has gone to voters, it has passed. [Note: In writing this, I forgot that in South Dakota, an mmj initiative lost narrowly 48-52% in Nov. 2006. But the two states are very different.]

Medical cannabis legislation is on the move in Illinois too, where a state Senate committee passed legislation last week. Supporters in Minnesota are also back to work after near success last session.

The American College of Physicians, the nation's second-largest doctors' group, issued a position paper this year supporting medical cannabis.

It is clear to me, as a longtime patient/activist for medical cannabis, that the only way this legislation will make it through the Legislature is if the Republican domination of the Assembly is ended. Fortunately for suffering patients and their families, the GOP majority has shrunk to just three.

Gov. Jim Doyle is on record stating he would sign a bill. It's now up to voters this fall to put representatives in place who agree with the 80 percent of us who believe medical cannabis should be a legal option for state residents.

Gary Storck

Is My Medicine Legal YET?

Madison

Posted by Gary at 12:13 PM | Comments (0)

March 13, 2008

Jacki Rickert Medical Marijuana Act among legislature’s unfinished business as session ends

Posted by Gary Storck
Thursday, March 13, 2008

Gov. Jim Doyle has warned that Wisconsin will become “the ashtray of the Midwest,” due to state lawmakers failure to pass a workplace smoking ban this session.

Our state also appears headed for another dubious honor, “Compassion hole of the Midwest”. Assembly Bill 550, the Jacki Rickert Medical Marijuana Act officially dies on March 13, today, but it practically was dead on arrival, thanks to the “compassionate conservatism” of the Assembly’s Republican leadership and Rep. Leah Vukmir (R-Wauwatosa), a nurse.

Recently, Michigan’s Board of Canvassers officially certified a state medical cannabis initiative has enough valid signatures to make the ballot. Unless the state legislature passes it outright, Michigan voters will get to decide whether to legalize medical marijuana this November. And since 1996, when California voters passed Proposition 215, legalizing medical cannabis in the Golden State, a state medical cannabis initiative has never lost outside of the narrow 52-48% defeat of an initiative in South Dakota in 2006.

In Illinois, a State Senate committee held a hearing on a bill last Wednesday and passed it out of committee, and in Minnesota, supporters are redoubling efforts after last session’s bill failed due to a veto threat. The recent statement of support for medical cannabis by the nation’s second largest physicians group, the American College of Family Physicians, demonstrates that medical cannabis is now practically mainstream.

Meanwhile, Wisconsin is experiencing a brain drain as patients and their families depart for states with more compassionate laws. It’s a lot harder to pull up stakes and move somewhere like Colorado, Oregon, Nevada or California. When what would be a crime in Wisconsin is legal in Michigan, Minnesota or Illinois, it could be a different story. Senior citizens with medical need will be buying retirement cabins in the UP instead of south of the border.

So, farewell to AB 550, the Jacki Rickert Medical Marijuana Act. Thanks to such health care boosters and stalwarts of compassion as Leah Vukmir and Mike Huebsch, not to mention Jeff Fitzgerald, we hardly knew ya…Come back soon, ya hear?

As the legislative session concludes, thoughts turn to the elections this fall and the slim 3-seat margin Republicans now hold in the State Assembly. If Democrats can regain the majority for the first time in 16 years, it means that that failure to pass legislation like the Jacki Rickert Medical Marijuana Act can no longer be blamed on the GOP alone. Patients are losing hope for changes at the Capitol. Will voters wake up?

Posted by Gary at 12:04 AM | Comments (0)

March 06, 2008

State Controlled Substances Board learns about compassion and free speech

Posted by Gary Storck
Thursday, March 06, 2008

March 6 is the quarterly meeting of the State Controlled Substances Board, a little known entity of state government. Gov. Jim Doyle recently reappointed the board’s chair, Darrold Treffert, M.D. to another 4-year term. Treffert, a psychiatrist, has made a career out of opposing the medical use of cannabis.

Back in 2004, before his first reappointment to the post by Gov. Doyle, (a curious action as Gov. Doyle has been on record as saying he would sign a medical cannabis bill since at least March 2002) after Treffert had several letters published opposing then-Rep. Gregg Underheim’s medical cannabis bill AB 740, I put up this analysis of his position on the IMMLY site: click here. Note his conflicting positions on Marinol, the pharmaceutically produced synthetic THC (or TCH as he refers to it) that has been a Schedule 3 drug for several years.

Below is a section from the Dec. 5, 2005 minutes click here of what transpired last time the controlled substances board discussed medical cannabis legislation.
-------

CONTROLLED SUBSTANCES BOARD

DECEMBER 1, 2005

MEETING MINUTES

PRESENT: Cynthia Benning, R.Ph.; Yvonne Bellay, DVM; Robert Block; Darold Treffert, MD; Cecilia Hillard, Ph.D.

STAFF: Tom Ryan, Bureau Director; William Black, DRL Board Counsel; and PJ Monson, Bureau Assistant

EXCUSED: Doug Englebert, R.Ph.

(snip)

AB 740 – medical use of marijuana

Dr. Treffert distributed an article titled Tetrahydrocannabinol and Therapeutic Research Legislation for Cancer Patients. Known therapeutic properties of marijuana and its ingredients were discussed, with the Board noting that it does support ongoing research relating to the therapeutic effectiveness of cannabinoids and their synthetic analogs. Dr. Treffert suggested the Board oppose the use of marijuana for medical use as provided for in AB 740. The Board discussed its specific concerns relating to the proposed legislation.

MOTION: Dr. Treffert moved, seconded by Ms. Hillard, to go on record by issuance of a letter to the chair of the Assembly Health Committee as opposing AB 740, the use of marijuana for medical use. Motion carried unanimously.

MOTION: Dr. Treffert moved, seconded by Ms. Hillard, to allow the Chair or her designee to testify at any hearing. Motion carried unanimously.

The letter will confirm the Board went on record as opposing similar proposed legislation in 1983.

(end of section)

Interesting, as the Therapeutic Cannabis Research Act was actually passed overwhelmingly in 1981 and signed into law in 1982. So he went on record after the fact? That law was rendered symbolic by federal noncooperation anyways, undoubtedly to Dr. Treffert's delight. As a glaucoma patient who had lobbied for that bill, I never got my medicine.

Anyways, fast forward to today. As AB 550 was item F on today’s agenda click here, I arrived a few minutes late to the meeting.

CONTROLLED SUBSTANCES BOARD MEETING TELECONFERENCE Room 121A, 1400 East Washington Avenue DRL Contact: Tom Ryan (608) 266-8098 MARCH 6, 2008 9:30 A.M.

(snip)

E. Assembly Bill 477 – relating to salvia divinorum and providing a penalty – Board review
F. Assembly Bill 550 – relating to medical use of marijuana – Board review

(snip)

I found a large conference room with three board members holding the meeting by teleconference. After they had some phone problems and then reconnected the teleconference, they noted my presence. I identified myself as Gary Storck from Is My Medicine Legal YET? The clerk asked what my medicine was, and I replied, “cannabis”.

AB 477, the salvia bill, was also on the agenda and they discussed that. They knew little of the bill’s progress, but at least seemed to acknowledge that salvia is not a problem, but still worthy of more “control”.

Next up was AB 550, the Jacki Rickert Medical Marijuana Act, although they did not call it that. Once again, Treffert and company had little idea of where it stood, or if it had passed out of committee. They moved on quickly seeming content it was apparently dead for the session.

Then a couple more items, and the last item on the agenda before Adjourning was “Visitor Comments”.

As I had been told to identify myself during teleconference call, and was referred to as a visitor, I assumed I had the right to comment. When I asked for time, one of the members on the phone stated there was no public comment. I protested that I had come out on a very cold day to comment and had waited patiently and proceeded.

I began by saying that Assembly Bill 550 had another name, The Jacki Rickert Medical Marijuana Act and gave a brief description of her life of unrelenting severe pain and how she was approved by not only the federal government, but an earlier version of the very same state controlled substances board, for federal medical cannabis, but was never supplied.

23_20A.JPG
Jacki Rickert in New Jeresy, Oct. 2000.

I mentioned another Madison patient who had been harmed by conventional treatments and was alive only due to cannabis. I said their opposition was hurting patients. I also brought up some of Dr. Treffert’s inconsistent statements about Marinol and how he was holding the state back with his close-mindedness. I noted that the nation’s second largest physician group recently issued a position paper supporting medical cannabis. I mentioned that medical cannabis has overwhelming public support. They offered no reaction as I concluded my remarks, looking down uncomfortably while I spoke.

They meet again in June.

Posted by Gary at 02:06 PM | Comments (0)

March 02, 2008

Help send medical cannabis patients back to school!

Posted by Gary Storck
Sunday, March 02, 2008

Madison NORML and IMMLY are throwing a party to celebrate the impending return of Spring, as well as raise funds to help Jacki Rickert and other WI patients attend Patients Out of Time’s upcoming "Fifth National Clinical Conference on Cannabis Therapeutics" at the Asilomar Conference center in Pacific Grove CA click here.

This cutting-edge accredited conference on medical cannabis features international experts representing the latest research. In other words, exactly what Jacki and other WI patient-lobbyists need to impart to powerful opponents like Assembly Health and Healthcare Reform committee chair Rep. Leah Vukmir (R-Wauwatosa), whose blockade of the Jacki Rickert Medical Marijuana Act looks even more foolish now that the second-largest physician group in the U.S., the American College of Family Physicians, recently came out in support of medical cannabis click here.

IMMLY/ Madison NORML Spring medical cannabis silent auction fundraiser

Thursday, March 13, 2008
7 - 11 pm
Glass Nickel Pizza (downstairs)
2916 Atwood Ave.
Madison WI 53704
*Free admission!

Join Is My Medicine Legal YET? and Madison NORML for a benefit featuring a silent auction, live music from the Special Dank Midnights, snacks and medical cannabis info. Cash bar available. Bid on many unique items including signed posters, pictures, art and books, along with gift certificates for goods and services from local businesses.

Many of the auction items may be viewed in advance online at immly.org or madisonnorml.org. Items are being added daily. Some items will be on ebay only with others available only at the event.

How you can help:

Become a sponsor of our event by making a donation of items, goods, services, funds or other assistance. All donors will be listed as sponsors, if desired. Monetary donations may be made at the event, through the PayPal link on Madison NORML's home page click here, by mail to Madison NORML PO Box 3132, Madison WI 53704-0132, payable to "Madison NORML patient travel fund".

Bid on auction items on Ebay or come to the Glass Nickel on March 13. Links to ebay items will be posted when they are online.

For more info: Call 241-8922 or visit immly.org or madisonnorml.org.

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

March 01, 2008

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Cannabis decriminalization helping ease circuit court workloads, but increasing municipal court workloads

Posted by Gary Storck
Saturday, March 01, 2008

Last year we reported on Waukesha County’s decision to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of cannabis for first time offenders. Now, Sunday’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports how counties are finding that while decriminalizing cannabis has eased congestion in circuit courts, it has added to it at the municipal level. The lesson here is if you want to ease court congestion, stop making cannabis possession a matter for the courts in the first place! Regulate it like alcohol for adult use.

From the March 2, 2008 editions of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel click here

MUNICIPAL COURTS STAY BUSY

Efforts to reduce Circuit Court congestion boost workload

By Jacqueline Seibel

Waukesha - People who work in any of the 16 municipal courts in Waukesha County can easily sum up a current trend: They are increasingly busy.

Development, legislative changes and special grants for law-enforcement crackdowns all have had an impact on municipal courts in the county, officials said.

Last November, the Waukesha County Board voted to decriminalize marijuana possession cases for first-time offenders. Those defendants now report to municipal court and face a maximum penalty of $1,000. Previously, all such cases were handled as misdemeanor offenses in Circuit Court, 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, relieve Circuit Court congestion and keep any revenue from fines in the county.

Continues click here.

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