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November 30, 2008

MI: Saginaw News: 'Trying to ease my suffering'

Posted by Gary Storck
Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Saginaw News published this article, which begins with a compassionate look at a patient dealing with serious illness who clearly benefits from legal access to medical cannabis. The second half reports on the naysayers and quacks who dismiss medical cannabis as not needed. It's shameful for a physician to close their minds to any potential treatment. To do so with cannabis with its incredible safety and lack of toxicity, when they have patients who could benefit, is nothing short of malpractice.

'Trying to ease my suffering'
THE SAGINAW NEWS click here.
Sunday, November 30, 2008

Unlike former president Bill Clinton, Charles H. Snyder III inhales.

On bad days, he heats up marijuana three times a day. On good days, it's less.

However, on bad days -- when the chronic pain from glaucoma and the rare genetic disorder Nail-patella syndrome becomes unbearable -- the 31-year-old Genesee County resident sniffs more marijuana through an electric vaporizer.

''For seven years, doctors tried to find the right formula of pain pills to help me lead a more normal life,'' said the married father of a toddler daughter. ''They never found the right combination or dosage amount that didn't make things worse. It's not about getting high. I'm not a thug. I'm trying to ease my suffering.''

Snyder estimates he's one of approximately 50,000 Michigan patients struggling with chronic pain who rejoiced when citizens passed the controversial Proposal 1 in the Nov. 4 general election.

When the proposal takes effect Thursday, Michigan will join Arkansas, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington in permitting medical marijuana to treat cancer, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, chronic pain and HIV/AIDS -- without fear of state prosecution.

Compassionate?

Snyder is a member of the Ferndale-based medical marijuana reform advocacy group Michigan Coalition for Compassionate Care.

An unemployed construction worker, he began using marijuana after reading about the relief it provides. Absent or underdeveloped kneecaps and thumbnails characterize Nail-Patella, which causes bone, joint, fingernails and kidney abnormalities.

He began buying it seven years ago from ''underground people I trust.''

He uses a vaporizer to heat the drug to 356 to 392 degrees -- nearly the same temperature as baking a cake -- to release active cannabinoids, but below the point where the heat produces carcinogenic tars and noxious gases.

''There are less than 100 people in mid-Michigan that I'm aware of using marijuana for medical reasons, but who knows for sure, since people are afraid of being put through the ringer or arrested,'' Snyder said. ''For me it's more important to have some type of quality of life, so the fear and danger involved with buying illegal drugs are worth it because I'm taking a more proactive role in my overall well being.''

The proposal allows people to use and grow marijuana to treat certain medical conditions with a physician's authorization. However, users of the mind-altering drug -- also known as cannabis, weed, herb, maryjane, reefer, 'the chronic', pot and blunts -- must register with the state.

Once licensed, patients may possess 2.5 ounces or less of marijuana and cultivate no more than 12 plants in an enclosed, locked facility, according to the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act.

(snip)

Continues: click here.

Posted by Gary at 10:41 AM | Comments (0)

November 27, 2008

Response to 11/20 Green Bay Press Gazette editorial on medical cannabis in WI

Posted by Gary Storck
Thursday, November 27, 2008

On Nov. 20, the Green Bay Press Gazette published an editorial. "Medical marijuana is worth study", which I posted here: click here.

I sent the following response, which to date, has not been published in the Gazette.

Dear Editor,

Thank you for your sensible editorial, “Medical marijuana is worth study” (Nov. 20).

However, in stating, “There is no need to rush to judgment, but lawmakers should investigate the idea by holding hearings to gauge public support”, the Press Gazette underestimates the urgent need for legal access to medical cannabis for Wisconsin patients and families, while ignoring hearings already held in the last several years.

Then-State Rep. Gregg Underheim held a hearing on his medical marijuana bill in Nov. 2005, and State Sen. Jon Erpenbach convened an informational hearing on medical cannabis in Nov. 2007. Polling in 2002 and 2005 also found overwhelming support statewide.

The groundwork for passing a bill like Michigan’s and the 12 other states has already been done. The only reason the issue has remained stalled in the legislature is because the outgoing leadership in the Assembly has been extremely hostile to the idea of medical cannabis, dating back to bills introduced in the mid-1990’s.

State lawmakers who truly represent their constituents know that medical cannabis deserves passage as soon as possible. Delaying matters further only places patients and their loved ones in the difficult position of either breaking the law or allowing a loved one or family member to suffer greatly. That is not the way to treat people in pain.

Gary Storck
Director of communications,
Is My Medicine Legal YET? www.immly.org

Posted by Gary at 09:36 AM | Comments (1)

November 23, 2008

Saginaw's Review Magazine: Implementation of Michigan's New Medical Marijuana Law

Posted by Gary Storck
Sunday, November 23, 2008

Here is a great article on the details and fine points of Michigan's new medical cannabis law, including when it will take effect.

Source: Review Magazine (Saginaw, MI) click here
Published: Thu, Nov 20, 2008
Copyright: 2008 Review Magazine
Author: Robert E. Martin & Greg Schmid
Referenced: Proposal 1, The Michigan Medical Marijuana Act
click here and here
Read article on MapInc.org: click here.

IMPLEMENTATION OF MICHIGAN'S NEW MEDICAL MARIJUANA LAW

There are several keys to understanding the new Michigan Marijuana Law. Enacted by voters in a landslide election with a 63% margin on November 4th, Michigan now joins twelve other states that have decriminalized marijuana for medical purposes.

Prop 1 is now to be cited as the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act and for the first time in over 75-years, the 'criminal' element that has profiteered on this multi-billion dollar underground industry, along with the Pharmaceutical companies that also reap billions for creating synthetic pills that handle 'pain & suffering' are being opened to competition from providers and patients seeking treatment from the plant that George Washington and Thomas Jefferson harvested on a regular basis.

Modeled after the state of Oregon's approach, the law states, "The medical use of marijuana is allowed under state law to the extent that it is carried out in according with the provisions of this act."

Specifically, what this translates into is that the law takes effect 10 days after the official declaration of the vote, which is scheduled for November 24th, so you can expect the law to take effect on December 4th.

The Department of Community Health has 120 days from the effective date of the new law to establish rules and commence issuing Registry ID Cards on April 2, 2009.

They must also promulgate rules that govern the manner in which it shall consider applications for renewals of ID cards and Caregiver applications, and may establish application fees that generate sufficient revenues to offset expenses of administering and implementing the act.

Additionally, they must submit an annual report to the Legislature that does not disclose specific information about applicants and caregivers, but contains information on the number of applications, the number approved in each county, the nature of the debilitating medical conditions, and the number of cards revoked.

The Registry ID Card & Primary Caregivers

The Act gives the Michigan Dept. of Health the duty to issue Registry ID cards, which will take a maximum of 20 days to get. Registry information is strictly confidential, and cannot be used as probable cause to target you or your Primary Care Giver. If the Department gives out your identifying information inappropriately, it is a crime.

If the Registry ID Card is not issued within 20 days after proper application, the qualifying patient may "self-issue" by executing a notarized statement, available online at the Free Form Bank (see link below). This is called an Affidavit in lieu of a Registry ID card.

To obtain a Registry ID card the patient must get a written certification from a doctor stating the patient's debilitating medical condition and also stating that, in the physician's professional opinion, the patient is likely to receive therapeutic or palliative benefit from the medical use of marijuana to treat or alleviate the patient's debilitating medical condition.

According to the new law, Doctors are the unquestioned gatekeepers to access. No court can second-guess their professional judgment. The law provides that the physician (MD or Osteopath) is immunized against legal or professional sanctions.

The key benefit of participation in the Formal Registry is that a registered Qualifying Patient and a designated Primary Caregiver, who have in their possession Registry ID Cards, enjoy presumptions of legitimacy. This creates a prophylactic immunity from arrest.

A designated Primary Caregiver must be at least 21 years of age with no prior felony convictions involving illegal drugs. The Caregiver is allowed to cultivate 12 plants (kept in a locked facility) and possess 2.5 ounces of marijuana, for each of up to 5 patients.

The law specifically bars arrest, prosecution, criminal or civil penalty, disciplinary action, and bars seizure or forfeiture of medical use marijuana. Any incidental amount of seeds, stalks, and unusable roots shall also be allowed under state law and shall not be included in this amount.

A registered Primary Caregiver may receive compensation for costs associated with assisting a registered qualifying patient in the medical use of marijuana. Any such compensation shall not constitute the ale of controlled substances.

A registered "Qualifying Patient" may possess 2.5 oz. of marijuana for medical use, and can cultivate 12 plants (kept in a locked facility) unless a "primary caregiver" has been designated. The law specifically bars arrest, prosecution, criminal or civil penalty, disciplinary action, and bars seizure or forfeiture of medical use marijuana.

"Enclosed, locked facility" means a closet, room, or other enclosed area equipped with locks or other security devices that permit access only by a registered primary caregiver or registered qualifying patient.

Bystanders merely in the presence or vicinity of the medical use of marijuana in accordance with the Act, or assisting a registered qualifying patient with using or administering marijuana, and suppliers of paraphernalia are legally protected under state law too.

Medical Purpose Affirmative Defense

Perhaps most significant of Michigan's new law is that it creates a stand alone Medical Purpose Affirmative Defense, which is only employed by one other state allowing Medical Marijuana - the state of Oregon, from which the proposal was modeled.

It protects patients and primary caregivers, even if they do not have Registry ID Cards. Defendants with charges pending on December 4,

2008 may use this defense. This defense is very liberal, easy to prove, and fully explained in "The Essentials of the Affirmative Defense", which is available, along with a model Motion to Dismiss and Affidavit in Support at the Free Form Bank.

This umbrella Affirmative Defense is the key to the Act. Using this defense, the specific limits give way to a reasonableness standard; not more than is reasonably necessary to ensure the uninterrupted availability of marijuana for the purpose of treating or alleviating the patient's serious or debilitating medical condition or symptoms of the patient's serious or debilitating medical condition.

All other acts and parts of acts inconsistent with this new law do not apply to the medical use of marijuana as provided by this new act.

This protects drivers, not under the influence, from Michigan's OWI law, which makes it a crime for drivers to have any amount of a controlled substance in their body, even if it has been weeks or months since they used marijuana.

Moreover, Parental Rights are protected. A person cannot be denied custody or visitation of a minor acting in accordance with this act, unless the person's behavior is such that it creates an unreasonable danger to the minor that can be clearly articulated and substantiated.

Conditions Covered

Disqualifying Factors that preclude protections under the act include: smoking marijuana in any public place or on any form of public transportation, use by a person who has no serious or debilitating medical conditions, any conduct where being under the influence would constitute negligence or professional malpractice per se, operating, navigating or being in actual physical control of any motor vehicle, aircraft, or boat while under the influence of marijuana, or use in a school bus or on school grounds or in any correctional facility.

Under the Act, Doctors are able to certify patients for an expansive list of specified debilitating medical conditions, plus any other 'chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition, or its treatment that produces symptoms or side effects like appetite loss, severe and chronic pain, severe nausea, seizures, or severe and persistent spasms.

Some of the Debilitating Medical Conditions specified in the Statute include: cancer, glaucoma, Positive HIV, AIDS, Hepatitis C, Lou Gehrig's Disease, Crohn's Disease, Agitation of Alzheimer's disease, epileptic seizures, or Multiple Sclerosis.

Because this law was adopted as a ballot initiative instead of as an act by the State Legislature, it can only be changed by a 3/4 vote of both the State Senate and House of Representatives.

While Federal Laws conflicting with State laws may be enforceable, the costly resources expended by the Federal government to challenge and prosecute individuals in other states that also have medical marijuana laws has averaged around one percent.

For more information. Registry & Provider Form Cards, and to complete a survey on the new Medical Marijuana Law, go to www.qualifyingpatient.com


Posted by Gary at 05:59 PM | Comments (0)

November 20, 2008

Green Bay Press Gazette: Editorial: Medical marijuana is worth study

Posted by Gary Storck
Thursday, November 20, 2008

Today, the Green Bay Press Gazette editorializes in favor of medical cannabis and calls for a statewide referendum. While a referendum would be one approach, it would delay relief rto Wisconsin patients who need it today, not next session or the following one. The best course for patients and their families is for state lawmakers to recognize their constituents are not that differernt than our neighbors in Michigan or in the other 12 states where it is legal. Prompt action by the state legislature this coming session is the only fair way to end this stalemate for patients who may not live to see a hypothetical referendum, and cannot move to Michigan or other states that protect patients using medical cannabis.

Source: Green Bay Press Gazette: click here
November 20, 2008

EDITORIAL: MEDICAL MARIJUANA IS WORTH STUDY

An interesting sidelight from Election Day 2008 is what happened up the road and over the pond in Michigan, where 63 percent of voters approved the removal of state penalties for registered patients who buy, grow or use small amounts of marijuana for medical purposes.

Michigan thus becomes the eighth state where a ballot initiative has OK'd the use of marijuana for therapeutic purposes. Legislatures in four other states have enacted medical marijuana laws, so nearly a quarter of the country has moved in this direction.

Recreational use of marijuana remains illegal everywhere and we're not suggesting that law be changed.

On the other hand, most all of us know or have known someone whose suffering might have been alleviated from its purported medical qualities. The most-cited benefits of medicinal marijuana are as an anti-nauseant for cancer chemotherapy and to treat nausea and appetite loss in HIV/AIDS.

The Michigan campaign featured two faces of the struggle to legalize marijuana as a medicine, according to The Associated Press coverage of the initiative's success. Rochelle Lampkin of Detroit suffers from multiple sclerosis and experiences blindness from optic neuritis, and George Wagoner, a retired physician from Manistee, helped his wife of 51 years by procuring marijuana to ease her symptoms of chemotherapy.

It's foolish to equate these legitimate efforts to aid seriously ill patients with the plague of street drugs, but that's been precisely the federal government's reaction to the states that have passed such legislation.

Justice Department funds continue to be used to arrest and prosecute patients even where state laws permit access to physician-supervised medical marijuana. During his campaign President-elect Obama pledged to respect the will of the voters in those states; he should keep that promise.

With medical marijuana about to become legal just north of the border, perhaps it's time for Wisconsin to take a serious look. There is no need to rush to judgment, but lawmakers should investigate the idea by holding hearings to gauge public support.

It may even be a subject worthy of a statewide referendum.

Also: Capital Times: State debate: Medical marijuana should be considered in Wisconsin, the Green Bay Press Gazette says click here

Posted by Gary at 09:33 AM | Comments (0)

November 15, 2008

Letter in Capital Times: Time to get real with marijuana laws

Posted by Gary Storck
Saturday, November 15, 2008

Here's a letter the Capital Times published today.

Source: Capital Times click here
Pubdate: 15 November 2008
Author: Gary Storck

TIME TO GET REAL WITH MARIJUANA LAWS

Dear Editor:

One of the hallmarks of the Bush administration has been creating and maintaining its own alternate reality on seemingly most, if not all, issues.

Continuing to maintain the legal fiction that cannabis is an evil Schedule 1 drug with a high potential for abuse and no medical use was one facet of this policy.

With his landslide victory, President-elect Barack Obama has both the political capital and the opportunity to start with a blank slate. Two statewide marijuana ballot initiatives even outpolled Obama. Michigan voters legalized medical marijuana by a 63 percent margin, and marijuana decriminalization passed in Massachusetts by a 68 percent margin. Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank, sponsor of federal legislation that would decriminalize possession of marijuana nationwide (Rep. Tammy Baldwin is a co-sponsor), depicted the current situation as "a case of people being ahead of the politicians."

Real change means acknowledging reality, not selectively, but across the board. It would be intellectually dishonest and unfitting for a new administration to reject science and reality-based positions on any issue. To continue to do so with cannabis ignores a major opportunity to finally correct a colossal mistake that just claimed its 20 millionth American arrested last month.

Gary Storck

co-founder, Madison chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML)

Madison

Posted by Gary at 09:41 AM | Comments (0)

November 14, 2008

One year ago today: WI State Senate informational hearing on medical cannabis

Posted by Gary Storck
Friday, Nov. 14, 2008

It was just one year ago today that the Wisconsin Senate Committee on Health, Human Services, Insurance and Job Creation, chaired by State Senator Jon Erpenbach, held a public information hearing about medical marijuana featuring testimony from expert witnesses. The three experts were federal legal patient George McMahon, CA medical cannabis physician and WI native Dr. Dave Bearman, and Dr, Chris Fichtner, a psychiatrist who is the former head of mental health for the Illinois Department of Health and Human Services.

Today, DRCNET's Drug War Chronicle click here is passing on a suggestion from Eric Sterling that Dr. Fichtner would be a good candidate for the US drug czar position in an Obama Administration:

(snip)

One possibility would be Chris Fichtner, the former head of mental health for the state of Illinois," (Eric) Sterling suggested.

Fichtner is an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Chicago who has worked with drug reformers in Illinois. He testified in favor of medical marijuana bills in Illinois and Wisconsin.

We'd really love to have Dr. Fichtner back testifying in support of Wisconsin's next medical cannabis bill, but he certainly has the knowledge, qualifications and credentials to be an excellent drug czar, should his name be considered, long shot as it is.


Posted by Gary at 10:24 AM | Comments (0)

November 08, 2008

Green Bay Press Gazette and AP: Medical marijuana law's passage encourages advocates in Wisconsin

Posted by Gary Storck
Saturday, November 8, 2008

With the help of IMMLY's press release, Green Bay's Press Gazette has published an article about the effect of MI Prop 1 on Wisconsin and other Midwest states. The Associated Press also picked up the article and it also appeared in the Capital Times, Chicago Tribune online, along with dozens of other sources, according to Google News, making reader's aware of the existence of Michigan's new law and the potential impact on their state or our state.

Source: Green Bay Press Gazette click here
Pubdate: 8 November 2998
Author: Malavika Jagannathan

MEDICAL MARIJUANA LAW'S PASSAGE ENCOURAGES ADVOCATES IN WISCONSIN

Proposition OK'd Tuesday in Michigan

People who support using marijuana for medical purposes in Wisconsin hope a Michigan proposition could have a ripple effect in the Badger state.

On Election Day, a two-thirds majority in Michigan voted for the proposition, which would allow people with serious or terminal illnesses to use marijuana if certified by a doctor. The law allows patients to possess 2½ ounces of marijuana; they would receive a state ID card.

The law only recognizes patients with identification cards or their equivalent given out by states that also allow medical marijuana.

It's legal according to Michigan law, but federal law still prohibits the drug, even for medicinal purposes. In 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that state laws allowing the use don't provide immunity from federal prosecution.

"The federal government has been hostile to these laws," said Bruce Mirken, communications director for the Marijuana Policy Project, a Washington, D.C.-based group that lobbied for the Michigan law. "But a quarter of the country now allows it."

Twelve other states and Michigan allow severely ill patients to use marijuana in their treatment.

Gary Storck, director of a nonprofit lobbying organization called Madison NORML, said he thinks the Great Lakes states would take their cue from Michigan especially because of the 2-to-1 margin of support at the polls.

(snip) Contnues: click here


-------
Here is the Associated Press version in the Chicago Tribune:

Source: Chicago Tribune click here
Pubdate: 8 Nov. 2008
Author: AP

chicagotribune.com

MICH. MAY LEAD WAY FOR WIS. ON MEDICAL MARIJUANA

Associated Press
8:05 AM CST, November 8, 2008
GREEN BAY, Wis.

Wisconsinites hoping to legalize medical marijuana are looking to Michigan to set an example.

A Michigan proposition letting people with serious or terminal illnesses use marijuana with a doctor's order passed with a two-thirds majority in Tuesday's election.

Michigan joins 12 other states allowing the use of so-called medical marijuana. Federal law still prohibits use of the drug in all circumstances.

Gary Storck is director of the nonprofit group Madison NORML. He says Michigan could lead the way for the other Great Lakes states.

The Wisconsin Nurses Association and the Wisconsin Public Health Association favor legalizing medical marijuana.

Original Article: click here


Posted by Gary at 09:33 AM | Comments (0)

November 06, 2008

Michigan looks to codify newly passed medical cannabis law

Posted by Gary Storck
Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Detroit News looks into how Michigan authorities are forced to implement a law many officials personally opposed. Patients and their supporters will need to be extra vigilant to make sure that these officials do not attempt to weaken the law and ignore the will of the people of Michigan, who apparently are much wiser than the foklks they elected to lead them. This shows that even in victory, the fight continues, as many in California, where medical cannabis has now been legal for 12 years, can attest.

Source: Detroit Free Press click here
November 6, 2008

Michigan looks to codify pot, stem-cell laws

Some had opposed Props 1 and 2

BY MEGHA SATYANARAYANA
FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER

Tuesday's passage of new medical marijuana and embryonic stem-cell laws could pose interesting legal quandaries as the state tries to codify them in upcoming months.

The Michigan Medical Marijuana Act, formerly Proposal 1, would legalize growth and possession of small quantities of marijuana for people with chronic and terminal illnesses to use for pain and nausea relief.

The act will be written into law 10 days after the Board of Canvassers approves the November election results, at the latest by Nov. 24, according to Secretary of State officials. The Michigan Department of Community Health will then have 120 days to design the program, which includes identification cards and state oversight.

"We're setting ourselves up for an interesting dynamic," said Peter Hammer, a health law professor at Wayne State University. "It's hard to get the state to regulate something it doesn't want to."

Hammer said policing MDCH -- whose director opposed the proposal -- to ensure the law is properly enforced could be difficult.

Unofficial results show every Michigan county voted in favor of medical marijuana, giving it a 63%-37% victory. It will be about May 1 before any legal attempt to use the drug happens, said Dianne Byrum, a spokeswoman for the proposal's backers, Michigan Coalition for Compassionate Care.

(snip) Continues: click here.

Posted by Gary at 09:43 AM | Comments (0)

Is My Medicine Legal YET? Press Release: Michigan vote puts legal medical marijuana on Wisconsin's doorstep

Posted by Gary Storck
Thursday, November 6, 2008

So far, there has been little, if any, coverage by WI media of the amazing passage of medical cannabis legislation by Michigan voters on Election Day 2008. Michigan's medical cannabis initiative even outpolled new U.S. president Barack Obama's MI total votes. Obama received 2,867,680 votes (57%), while Proposition 1 received 3,005,678 votes (63%), underscoring the kind of popular support the issue has.

Here is IMMLY's press release on the passage of Prop 1:

For immediate release Thursday, November 6, 2008

MICHIGAN VOTE PUTS LEGAL MEDICAL MARIJUANA ON WISCONSIN'S DOORSTEP

Tuesday, voters in the state of Michigan overwhelmingly approved Proposition 1, making Michigan the 13th U.S. state to protect patients using medical marijuana from arrest and jail. In the process, Michigan voters saw through the lies and fear mongering of the opposition, including federal, state and local officials, and instead chose compassion and scientific fact.

IMMLY salutes Michigan voters for their compassionate decision. We believe that if the Wisconsin Constitution allowed citizens to place initiatives on our ballot, like Michigan and some other states, medical marijuana would easily pass in Wisconsin. Polling has established strong popular support for medical cannabis in Wisconsin, and without an initiative process, state residents must depend on state lawmakers to reflect that public support.

The American Nurses Association, Wisconsin Nurses Association, the American and Wisconsin Public Health Associations, American College of Physicians, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, the American Academy of HIV Medicine and many other professional health care organizations have endorsed therapeutic cannabis.

Despite popular support, state medical cannabis legislation has failed to progress out of committee because of purely political reasons. Residents of the 13 states where medical cannabis is now legal are not unlike those of Wisconsin, and we call on the new Wisconsin Legislature to act quickly to protect patients with compassionate legislation like that passed by Michigan, when lawmakers convene the new session in January 2009.

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

-30-

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

November 05, 2008

Rep. Leah Vukmir's "watch" as chair of the WI State Assembly Health committee comes to an abrupt end!

Posted by Gary Storck
Wednesday, November 5, 2008

On April 10, 2007, the Wisconsin State Journal reported that State Rep. Leah Vukmir, R-Wauwatosa click here, chair of the Assembly Committee on Health and Healthcare Reform, had said of proposed state medical cannabis legislation, "I will refuse to put members through the circus of a hearing for a bill that is not going to go anywhere. This is nothing more than a backdoor attempt to legalize marijuana, which is not going to happen on my watch."

Yesterday, Wisconsin voters brought an abrupt end to Vukmir's "watch" by giving control of the State Assembly back to state Democrats. Vukmir retained her seat, but her chairmanship and power to stop medical cannabis legislation evaporated, and she no longer represents a major threat to the health and well-being of Wiscionsin patients who need medical cannabis. While all results are not yet in, trends indicate Democrats will gain 5 seats and hold a 52-46 lead, with one independent. The independent is Rep. Jeff Wood of Chippewa Falls, a former Republican and the only member of the GOP to cosponsor AB 550, the Jacki Rickert Medical Marijuana Act.

And Vukmir, trained as a nurse but an enemy of patients who can benefit from therapeutic cannabis, now must not only must cope with her voter-induced demotion, but also the fact that medical marijuana is now legal in Michigan and this only makes it closer to becoming legal in Wisconsin and other Midwest states.

VUKMIR's Watch is OVER!

Posted by Gary at 09:34 AM | Comments (0)

November 04, 2008

Medical Marijuana Wins Michigan with 63% of the vote!

Posted by Gary Storck
Tuesday, November 4, 2008

More news out of MI puts the victory margin for Prop 1 at 63%.

WSBT-TV: Medical marijuana proposal passes in Michigan: click here
By Sarah Rice

Story Created: Nov 4, 2008 at 11:06 PM EST

NILES — Proposal one in Michigan easily passed with 63 percent of voters supporting the idea.

The proposal has been a hot button issue. It will allow people who are ill to legally buy, grow, and use marijuana.

(snip)
Continues: click here

Posted by Gary at 10:36 PM | Comments (0)

Michigan is the 13th medical marijuana state!

Posted by Gary Storck
Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Media outlets in Michigan have called Prop 1 as the winner. One source showed exit polling at 57-43 for. Wisconsin now has a medical marijuana state for a neighbor!

MIRS: 'Republican Bloodbath' In Michigan click here

Proposal 1, which legalizes medical marijuana, looks to be passing easily, 57 to 43 percent according to exit polling.

Posted by Gary at 08:27 PM | Comments (0)

November 02, 2008

State Journal: Drugged driving law is tough -- and unfair, some say

Posted by Gary Storck
Sunday, November 2, 2008

The Wisconsin State Journal offers a thoughtful look at Wisconsin's "Baby Luke" drugged sriving law and its problems.

Source: Wisconsin State Journalclick here
Pubdate: November 2, 2008
Author: Ed Treleven

DRUGGED DRIVING LAW IS TOUGH -- AND UNFAIR, SOME SAY

On Tuesday, more than nine months after a crash on a snowy highway that killed his fiancee, John H. Harrison Jr. will likely become the first person in Dane County to be convicted of a drugged driving homicide.

The law under which the 18-year-old man was charged in May, five months after the death of Courtney Kuenzi-Kessenich, 17, was itself born from tragedy in 2003.

But some lawyers contend the law is unfair because it says that finding even the slightest detectable amount of a drug that could impair driving is enough to prove a driver is guilty of driving under the influence, the same as a driver caught driving with too much alcohol in the blood.

"Defendants don't understand it," said Assistant Public Defender Dennis Burke, who is Harrison's attorney. "They think they have to prove that they were impaired."

Instead, under Wisconsin's drugged driving law, called the Baby Luke Law, police don't have to prove that a driver was impaired by drugs in the bloodstream. And if, as in Harrison's case, a death is involved, the driver can be charged with homicide by drugged driving.

The law is "extremely unfair as it creates a strict liability offense, something which is exceptionally rare in our criminal code," said Madison lawyer John Hyland. He represents Randall Zeck, 18, of Cross Plains, who was charged in May with homicide by drugged driving for a June 13, 2007, crash that killed Jason Randall, 30, of Cross Plains.

Hyland said Zeck and his parents "feel horribly" about Randall's death. But the fact that the law doesn't require proof that Zeck was actually impaired by drugs "bothers me, and them, and should bother every driver," Hyland said.

Prosecutors in Dane County have charged five people with homicide by drugged driving since the Baby Luke Law went into effect in December 2003, more than any other county in Wisconsin. Three of those people were charged within the last year.

Statewide, 33 people have been charged with homicide by drugged driving. Five of them were convicted on that charge, and most of those went to prison.

Most of the other 28 were convicted of some other form of vehicular homicide. Nine were convicted of homicide by drunken driving and seven were convicted of homicide by negligent driving.

Harrison is scheduled for a plea hearing on Tuesday, where he is likely to plead guilty or no contest to the homicide charge.

In Harrison's case, Burke said, the only possible defense would have been to prove police did not have probable cause to take Harrison's blood. But Burke didn't make that argument. A Good Samaritan at the scene told investigators the car "reeked of weed" and that there was a marijuana-filled cigar in the ashtray, he said.

"There was no way for me to say there wasn't probable cause," Burke said. "It's a tough, tough law. It's very difficult to defend against."

Last month, Susan Gorton, 46, of Cottage Grove, who struck and killed a bicyclist in February 2007, pleaded no contest to second-degree reckless endangerment. A homicide by drugged driving charge against her was dropped after prosecutors said they could not prove whether Gorton had smoked marijuana before or after the crash.

Shannon Anderson was charged in 2005 with homicide by drugged driving for a crash that killed a passenger in her car, Bobby Morrison, 20, on April 21, 2005. She pleaded no contest instead to homicide by negligent driving and got a year in prison.

Daniel Stowell faced homicide by drugged driving, along with homicide by drunken driving, for a crash that killed a man in Madison in 2004. Stowell received probation after he pleaded no contest to the drunken driving charge. Stowell is now serving a seven-year prison term after his probation was revoked.

The Baby Luke law was enacted after the traffic death in 2001 of Luke Logemann. Luke was delivered by Caesarean section after his mother's car was struck at an intersection in Milwaukee by a minivan driven by a man later found to have had cocaine in his blood. Twelve hours later, Luke died of injuries from the crash.

Bill and Michelle Logemann, Luke's parents, fought for a law prohibiting drugged driving. State Rep. Mark Gundrum, R-New Berlin, championed their cause.

Prosecutors in Wisconsin have filed simple drugged driving charges 1,131 times since 2003, court records indicate. While Dane County has charged drivers 68 times with drugged driving, Barron County in northwestern Wisconsin tops the state with 73 drugged driving charges.

Barron County District Attorney Angela Beranek attributes that number to well-trained police who look for the possibility of drugged drivers at every traffic stop.

"That is really excellent," Beranek said. "What a good thing to be known for, from a prosecutor's standpoint."

'Difference' discussed

Some say the law goes too far. Madison lawyer Peter Steinberg, who is often critical of drug prosecutions, said the law takes an irrational approach.

"The thing about the difference between having a detectable amount of controlled substance in your blood versus having a scientifically demonstrable impairment because of the drug is the difference between a rational law and a law based on wanting to punish people based on using drugs any way we possibly can," Steinberg said.

A state appeals court, however, upheld the law in 2005, ruling in a Fond du Lac County case that it was not an unconstitutional overstep by police.

Madison lawyer Tracey Wood, who specializes in impaired driving cases, predicted that the law would see further challenges in appeals courts in the future.

"The problem as I see this law is that one doesn't need to be impaired to be convicted of operating with a controlled substance," Wood said. "It's a great tool for prosecutors and police to get convictions on these people when before they would have had to show impairment."

But Dane County Assistant District Attorney Jay Mimier, who is prosecuting the Harrison case, said he expects to see more drugged driving cases — as long as the burdened court system can handle them — as more police officers become trained to recognize signs of drug impairment.

Mimier defends the standard under the law, citing drunken driving as an example. Though the legal blood alcohol limit for drivers is 0.08 percent, he said, alcohol can impair a driver even at levels between 0.04 and 0.08 percent.

"It's not a charge," he said, "but it's part of the evidence you look at."

(snip)

Full Article at: click here

Posted by Gary at 09:01 AM | Comments (0)

November 01, 2008

Detroit Free Press: Move to legalize medical marijuana supported by 2-1 margin

Posted by Gary Storck
Saturday, November 1, 2008

Three days to go to the election and a new Detroit Free Press-Local 4 Michigan Poll is finding backing at a 2:1 ratio, 61%-30%. This news bodes well for Michigan patients who can benefit from medical cannabis. In addition to being the 13th state to legalize medical cannabis, Michigan would be the first Midwest state, adding fuel to efforts in Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota, Ohio and Iowa. Furthermore, the 13 states including Michigan have nearly 25% of the US population, meaning if Prop 1 passes, 1 in 4 Americans will live in a state where medical cannabis is legal!

Detroit Free Press-Local 4 Michigan Poll

Move to legalize medical marijuana supported by 2-1 margin

November 1, 2008

Source: Detroit Free Press: click here

By DAWSON BELL
FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER

Michigan voters like the idea of decriminalizing the use of marijuana for medical purposes, backing the measure 61%-30%, the Detroit Free Press/Local 4 Michigan Poll shows.

Nine percent said they were undecided about allowing medical marijuana, designated as Proposal 1 on the ballot.

Support for Proposal 1 comes from Michiganders of various backgrounds and parts of the state. But it was stronger among voters under age 45 (66%) than those 65 and older (47%), and among Democrats (76%) than Republicans (49%).

The poll is based on telephone interviews with 616 Michiganders who said they are definitely voting in Tuesday’s election. The poll was conducted by Selzer & Co. Inc. of Des Moines, Iowa, Tuesday through Friday. it has a margin of error of 4 percentage points.

(snip) Continues: click here

Posted by Gary at 06:46 PM | Comments (0)