December 30, 2009
2009 Top 10 Wisconsin medical cannabis stories
Posted by Gary Storck
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Below is my year end report for the "Madison NORML Examiner. Read the original here.
Storck and Rickert at JRMMA hearing.
Madison: 2009 was a historic year for Wisconsin medical cannabis advocates. For the first time in decades, after a change in Assembly leadership, medical cannabis legislation gained the backing of key state lawmakers in both chambers. Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Madison), a sponsor of mmj bills dating back to the late 1990s, was joined by his colleague, Sen. Jon Erpenbach (D-Waunakee), in sponsoring AB554/SB368, the Jacki Rickert Medical Marijuana Act. The bill also gained 13 Assembly and 2 Senate cosponsors.
Below are Madison NORML Examiner's "2009 Top 10 Wisconsin medical cannabis stories:"
#10) Thursday, Feb 26, 2009: US Attorney General Eric Holder: Ending Medical Cannabis Raids now US Policy. This event did not happen in Wisconsin, but it was one of many pieces of the puzzle that came together in 2009 to make the Jacki Rickert Medical Marijuana Act a viable bill.
#9) Sunday, June 7, 2009: State Capitol "Candlelight" Vigil for victims of Medical Marijuana Prohibition. On a Sunday evening in late Spring, nearly 50 patients and supporters including Jacki Rickert gather for a "candlelight" vigil to hear speeches from Jacki, Mary Powers, Gary Storck and others. Singer-songwriter Rick Harris' performance of his song, "Legal Medicine Blues," inspired by Jacki Rickert, topped off a moving night of activism and rememberance.
#8) Summer 2009: Re-establishing Milwaukee NORML: Since the creation of a Milwaukee NORML Facebook group in 2008, momentum had been building for the formation of an official Milwaukee NORML chapter. Finally, after numerous stops and starts, became a reality in the Summer of 2009. However the group was disbanded due to internal problems in early 2010.
Wheelchair patients lead parade!
#7) Thurs.-Sun. October 1-4, 2009, The 39th Annual Great Midwest Marijuana Harvest Festival, with a live bill in play, represented the pinnacle of the festival's steadily rising focus on passage of Wisconsin medical marijuana legislation over the last decade or so. IMMLY's 7th annual Friday night benefit at the Frequency was the best yet. On Sunday, thousands of medical marijuana activists, led by a half dozen patients in wheelchairs, turned out on a cold and windy day for the traditional parade up State St., around Capitol Square, to the State St. steps of the Capitol for a rally and concert by Baghdad Scuba Review. And despite the cold weather, hundreds lingered to listen to speeches from advocates like JRMMA namesake Jacki Rickert, Gary Storck. Mary Powers, NJ activiist Jim Miller, along with other state and national activists.
#6) Monday, April 5, 2009: Michigan implements MMJ program, putting legal maedical marijuana just across the Wisconsin-Michigan borders: "Five months after voters approved a ballot measure to allow people with "debilitating" illnesses and diseases to use marijuana, the state Monday begins taking applications for the Michigan Medical Marijuana Program." Read more.
#5) Wednesday, Oct 21, 2009: Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle supports JRMMA. Although he had been telling supporters he would sign a bill if it reached his desk since before his election in 2002, Gov. Jim Doyle went a step farther, providing yet another piece of the puzzle by telling reporters at a October 2009 Wausau appearance that withholding medical marijuana was "senseless" and that he supported currentr legislation and would sign it if passed.
Mary & Gary and Friends.
#4) April 23-October 7, 2009: Lobbying with Mary & Gary (and friends). On April 23, Wisconsin patient activists Mary Powers and Gary Storck begin a new grass roots lobbying campaign at the State Capitol. By mid-summer, the two are making weekly visits, supplemented by increasing numbers of other patients and supporters, and documenting the visits with video "Mary & Gary" shows. By early October, this campaign has contacted more than 80 of 132 lawmakers offices.
Mary's veteran flag at memorial.
#3) Thursday, Oct. 22, 2009: Passing of Mary Powers. The Wisconsin medical cannabis community was saddened by the abrupt passing of Mary Powers, after a long and heroic struggle with cancer, AIDS and Hepatitis C. Mary's devotion to the cause of legal medical cannabis in Wisconsin, despite knowing she would not live to see it passed, should inspire everyone, whether healthy or dealing with a medical conditionm to step up and in some way, do something try to fill the gigantic activist shoes Mary left empty when she left us Oct. 22.
11/16 Press Conference (WI Eye)
#2) Monday, November 16, 2009: Capitol press conference announcing introduction of Jacki Rickert MMJ Act: The Capitol and it's ornate Senate Parlor, adjacent to the Senate Chamber, have hosted a number of press conferences about imedical cannabis legislation over the years. On Nov. 16, 2009, there was a different feeling in the air because, for the first time in decades, a bill with powrrful support in both chambers with the support of WI Gov. Jim Doyle, was unveiled to great hopes and much press.
#1) Tuesday, December 15, 2009: Combined Public Health Committee Hearing on AB554/SB368, the Jacki Rickert Medical Marijuana Act. Despite shrill attempts by opponents to distract committee members from focusing on medicinal benefits, one hundred five people including representatives of state health groups, health care professionals and most importantly, patients and family members, testified or registered in support with only five against, four of them special intesrest group paid lobbyists. Even more patients who were unable to make it to the Capitol submitted reams of written testimony. This historic hearing, standing room only on a bitterly cold winter day that followed a major snowstorm, demonstrated that Wisconsinites support medical cannabis, by an overwhelming margin.
An online poll by Wisconsin Eye, which videocast and archived both the press conference and hearing, ran an internet poll on Dec. 29 that registered support for passing medical marijuana in Wisconsin in the 95% or higher support range at publication time. Read a great late breaking "gloves-off" dissection of JRMMA opponents' behavior from the Fox Valley Scene, "Conservatives trot out tired stories at medical marijuana hearing".
December 26, 2009
Wisconsin: AB554/SB368 Hearing: Nurses, doctor support compassionate use
Posted by Gary Storck
Saturday, December 26, 2009
Here is my latest Madison NORML Examiner article, which you can view the original version of, with photos here.
Wisconsin: AB554/SB368 Hearing: Nurses, doctor support compassionate use
Madison: At the Dec. 15 combined committee hearing on AB554/SB368, the Jacki Rickert Medical Marijuana Act, support from health care professionals, particularly those who treat patients in real pain or represent professions that do, was strong. This was evident to those attending the hearing and to those viewing it on Wisconsin Eye.
Unfortunately, the representative of the Wisconsin State Medical Society (SMS), Dr. Michael Miller, an addiction specialist with a lucrative practice treating people involuntarily referred for counseling after detection of marijuana use, was not among those supporting the JRMMA Dec. 15.
But even Dr. Miller's on record opposition on behalf of the SMS to the Jacki Rickert Medical Marijuana Act was tempered by statements he made. As to "gateway drugs", Dr. Miller identified tobacco, a legal substance, as the number one gateway drug. He also acknowledged not only had SMS members not been polled as to whether they supported the JRMMA, but if they were, "you might get a lot of members saying yes".
Miller did not elaborate on why the Society did not poll members before sending him to oppose the JRMMA on their behalf. Miller also offered no indication why the SMS felt it appropriate to send a representative skilled in the area of addictions rather than one who might actually approach medical use from the benefits it could provide to patients with cancer, chronic pain, AIDS, multiple sclerosis or any of the debilitating conditions and treatments included in the JRMMA.
A little later, the committees heard from Dr. Michael Wolkomir of Barneveld, a Wisconsin board certified family medicine physician and State Medical Society member in practice since 1971. Dr. Wolkomir spoke in support of the JRMMA, describing how legal access to medical cannabis would benefit his patients.
Dr. Wolkomir testified that marijuana is "a useful adjutant medicine and safest for many problems". He further noted cannabis could help reduce the use of stronger opiates like Oxycontin, Vicodin and morphine if used in conjunction with milder analgesics. Dr. Wolkomir also termed Marinol and Sativex, “expensive and less complete agents inferior to the natural product”. He also noted he had practiced in Ontario Canada and cited positive findings of Canada’s COMPASS study on medical cannabis.Mary Lynn Mathre, an nurse with a specialty in addictions and the President and co-founder of the medical cannabis group Patients Out of Time, addressed many of Dr. Miller's contentions. She also invited SMS members and others to attend Patients Out of Time's next conference in Rhode Island in April 2010. Mathre also testified as to the strong support in not only the nursing community, but the medical world in general documented by their list of organizations supporting the therapeutic use of cannabis.
Karen Carrig, a nurse with HOPE of Wisconsin, touted the JRMMA and how it would help hospice workers by offering protection for patients and hospice staff, as well as offering a safe supply source. Education opportunities would allow more chances to speak about the use of vaporization, edibles, tinctures or other alternatives to smoking. She also acknowledged that some patients do not respond to narcotics or the side effects are intolerable, like nausea, vomiting, constipation, even hallucinations. Carrig explained that cannabis could also replace more dangerous medications for neuropathic pain, like methadone. She said hospice “would be intimately involved and look forward to” helping to implement the JRMMA by educating the treatment team, patients and families and utilizing cannabis as an adjunct to other legal therapies.
Gina Dennik-Champion, Executive Director of Wisconsin Nurses Association, testified that she has heard many stories of the benefits of medical cannabis from nurses directly involved in patient care. She testified that nurses don’t want to see patients in pain and if cannabis works so be it, patients should have legal protection. Dennik-Champion also urged the committees to expand the JRMMA’s list of those legally authorized to certify patients are undergoing debilitating medical condition or treatments to include nurse prescribers, who already prescribe a wide range of medications under state law. The WNA formally went on record supporting legal access and asking the governor and state lawmakers to pass medical marijuana legislation over a decade ago.
For more info: List of qualifying medical conditions included in the JRMMA. Jacki Rickert MMJ Act Hearing Recap & Action Alert. For additional details on the Jacki Rickert Medical Marijuana Act, info on the Dec. 15 combined Health committee hearing, bill text and status, all the latest news and how you can help, visit JRMMA.org, IMMLY.org or MadisonNORML.org. Visit my Madison NORML Examiner articles archive.
December 22, 2009
Jacki Rickert MMJ Act Hearing Recap & Action Alert
Posted by Gary Storck
Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2009
Below you will find a recap of the Dec. 15, 2009 combined committee hearing as well as an action alert on how to help pass the JRMMA. As always, visit JRMMA.org for the latest news and information.
MADISON: Support from hearing attendees was overwhelming, and media interest high, for the Dec. 15 combined committee hearing on the Jacki Rickert Medical Marijuana Act. The JRMMA, Assembly Bill 554/Senate Bill 368), is sponsored by Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Madison) and Sen. Jon Erpenbach (D-Waunakee). A sampling of coverage is linked from JRMMA.org. The entire 8 hour hearing can be viewed online on Wisconsin Eye.
Those arriving close to the hearings start time found the large hearing room standing room only, with attendees crowding hallways leading in to the hearing room.
The final tally for the day was 57 who attended registered in support, with only one registered against. 48 people testified in support, with only 5 against. Those five were Dr. Michael Miller, State Medical Society, Kevin St. John, Wisconsin DOJ on behalf of AG Van Hollen, Charles Wood, Wisconsin Narcotics Officer Association, Robert Block, State of Wisconsin Controlled Substances Board and the fifth was a private citizen.
While media focused on negative comments from Rep. Leah Vukmir (R-Wauwatosa), The Medical Society's Dr. Michael Miller and other naysayers, eloquent testimony was heard from patient after patient who stayed long after the reporters left. It was a testimony itself to the toughness of this room of survivors that they came out on such a cold day and waited in pain long hours to testify. These stories of courage in the face of great adversity are emblematic of the Wisconsin spirit.
What comes next?
The two committees, the Assembly Committee on Public Health and the Senate Committee on Health, Health Insurance, Privacy, Property Tax Relief, and Revenue must now deliberate and vote on the bills. Only when the bills are voted out of committee will the JRMMA move to the floor of each chamber, the Assembly and the Senate, for a floor vote.
What you can do:
Please call your representative and senator. If they already are sponsors or co-sponsors, please thank them. If they aren't, let them know you are disappointed and ask them to support compassionate medical marijuana policy. If you live in the district of any committee members, please contact them and ask that they vote for the JRMMA when the committee votes on the bill sometime after the holidays. Please contact IMMLY at firstname.lastname@example.org with any information on your contact with the legislator. We need to develop a network of calls and contacts to make sure legislators support this bill. We need to know who says they support it and who is against. Let us know about fence-sitters who may just need more info. This goes for both committee members as well as all lawmakers. If they are against, ask for reasons why. If you can provide any info on a lawmakers position whatsoever, please let IMMLY know at email@example.com
Here is a list of the committees and members:
Health Committees and Members from combined public hearing on JRMMA on Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2009 who must now debate JRMMA and vote on it in committee:
Senator Tim Carpenter (Vice-Chair)
Senator Judith Robson
Senator Ted Kanavas
Senator Alberta Darling
Representative Kristen Dexter
Representative Penny Bernard Schaber
Representative Patricia Strachota
Representative Leah Vukmir
Representative Scott Newcomer
Send pre-written letter to Legislators: http://capwiz.com/norml2/issues/alert/?alertid=14115736
December 21, 2009
Two Letters supporting JRMMA in Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel
Posted by Gary Storck
Monday, Dec. 21, 2009
Below are two letters, one mine, published in Tuesday's Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.
US WI: PUB LTE: MEDICAL MARIJUANA It's about time
Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Pubdate: 22 Dec 2009
Author: Gary Storck
MEDICAL MARIJUANA: IT'S ABOUT TIME
In saying patients testifying in support of medical marijuana are somehow willing dupes of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, isn't Capt. Charles Wood of the Wisconsin Narcotics Officers Association really insinuating they are stupid (Opinions, Dec. 21)? Gov. Jim Doyle has said he'd sign the bill if it reached his desk. I can only imagine what Wood must think of him.
Are concerns about job security behind Wood's hurtful and condescending attitude? Could he be worried if more people learn, despite years of propaganda to the contrary, that cannabis is a safe and effective medicine, it might spontaneously trigger full-scale legalization?
Is this the best Wood has? Wisconsin patients have waited many years for the Legislature to take a serious look at this issue. As one born with a medical condition that has resulted in a lifetime of ill health, I salute Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Madison) and Sen. Jon Erpenbach (D-Waunakee) for listening and bringing forth the Jacki Rickert Medical Marijuana Act.
Those who traffic in fear, like Wood and Rep. Leah Vukmir (R-Wauwatosa), must not be allowed to obscure that this bill is really about compassion. One hundred three people testified or registered in support. Only five testified against. If democracy still matters, the bill must be passed intact out of committee and sent for floor votes without delay. Our seniors, vets, sick, disabled and dying and those who care about them are counting on it.
National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws
US WI: Help the patients
Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Pubdate: 22 Dec 2009
Author: Brett Waite
HELP THE PATIENTS
As Wisconsin is debating passing a bill that would permit the use of medical marijuana, I can only hope that those against the bill stop for one moment and consider those of us who suffer.
This bill is about helping the sick, not about political posturing. The simple facts are that marijuana is a safe and effective treatment for many different ailments, and, therefore, its recommended distribution should be in the hands of doctors. It seems to me that all plants were put here for a reason. If the U.S. Food and Drug Administration hasn't determined it safe by now, then the agency never will.
So enough with the political debate. Let trained medical doctors determine when its use will benefit patients. This bill has nothing to do with the recreational use of marijuana and will not impact its use for recreation as some may argue.
December 20, 2009
Wisconsin Narcotics Officers Association: NORML "A front for full legalization"
Posted by Gary Storck
Sunday, December 20, 2009
If it wasn't bad enough that NORML was attacked by a couple legislators and the Wisconsin Narcotics Officers Association at the 12/15 JRMMA hearing, their lobbyist has now attacked us in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel! This is how bad they want to try to stop medical matijuana in Wisconsin, and everyone who cares should be disgusted by these attempts to deny the will of the people!
Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Pubdate: 21 Dec 2009
Author: Charles Wood
A FRONT FOR FULL LEGALIZATION
The Wisconsin Narcotics Officers Association agrees with state Rep. Leah Vukmir (R-Wauwatosa) that medical marijuana is a "facade."
Testimony that is based on science clearly shows that marijuana is a marginal painkiller at best, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not approve it, and if Wisconsin passes legislation, our laws would become contrary to federal law.
The parade of people with real medical concerns at the Madison hearing on Senate Bill 368 and Assembly Bill 554 was sad, because those backing this effort are using them to reach their goal of expanded legal marijuana use.
Behind the scene, NORML (National Organization for Reform of Marijuana Law) is driving the engine, and the sick as well as well-meaning lawmakers are being used.
Polls show Wisconsinites are behind medical marijuana, I suggest dropping the word medical and ask our citizenry if we want marijuana.
Make no mistake, this is a foot in the door. It is marijuana legislation, and it is not genuine to refer to it as medical.
Wisconsin Narcotics Officers Association
Waukesha County Metropolitan Drug Unit
December 17, 2009
Jacki Rickert MMJ Act Hearing registers strong support
Posted by Gary Storck
Thursday, Dec. 17, 2009
Below is my latest article for Madison NORML Examiner. Read a slightlt prettier version here.
MADISON: Support from hearing attendees was overwhelming, and media interest high, for the Dec. 15 combined committee hearing on the Jacki Rickert Medical Marijuana Act. A sampling of coverage appears below.
Those arriving close to the 10 am scheduled start time found the large hearing room standing room only, with attendees crowding hallways leading in to the hearing room. All committee members were present except Sen. Ted Kanavas (R-Brookfield), last seen on Milwaukee television in a debate with bill sponsor Sen. Jon Erpenbach saying he was against the bill. According to his website, he was at a Town Hall meeting. Let us hope a constituent asked him why he was not at the Capitol representing them at this critical hearing.
The final tally for the day was 57 who attended registered in support, with only one registered against. 48 people testified in support, with only 5 against. Those five were Dr.Michael Miller, State Medical Society, Kevin St. John, Wisconsin DOJ on behalf of AG Van Hollen, Charles Wood, Wisconsin Narcotics Officer Association, Robert Block, State of Wisconsin Controlled Substances Board and the fifth was a private citizen.
Some headlines and articles focused on remarks by Rep. Leah Vukmir (R-Wauwatosa) accusing bill sponsors Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Madison) and Sen. Jon Erpenbach (D-Waunakee) of using patients as a "façade" to push the complete legalization of marijuana in Wisconsin.
Rep. Leah Vukmir's claim at a public hearing drew boos and other derisive comments from many in the room packed with sick people in wheelchairs or walking with canes. Supporters say marijuana helps patients deal with diseases, cancer treatments and other ailments by relieving them of pain and nausea.
Vukmir, R-Wauwatosa, said there were no medical reasons to use marijuana and that other pain relief measures should be pursued that "do not require individuals to light a joint." She said once marijuana is legalized for medical uses, momentum will grow to make it available to everyone, as has happened elsewhere.
"What I resent most is this facade you are putting forth, using people who are dying of cancer and have other diseases, as your shield," she said to the bill's Democratic co-sponsors who vehemently denied her claims. -- "Rep. Leah Vukmir, R-Wauwatosa, draws boos for opposing medical marijuana", Dec. 16, 2009, Green Bay Press Gazette.
The same AP article ran statewide and beyond with various titles including, "Wisconsin: Secret agenda for medical pot?" Dec. 16, 2009, Dubuque Telegraph Herald, "Sides square off in state Legislature over medical marijuana", La Crosse Tribune, Dec. 16, 2009 and "Sides square off in Wisconsin over medical marijuana", Appleton Post Crescent, Dec. 16, 2009.
Predictable remarks in opposition by the aforementioned long time medical cannabis opponent Dr. Michael Miller, representing the State Medical Society also made it into various reports. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Patrick Marley included Vukmir's "façade" quote as well as this of Dr. Miller.
Michael Miller, a physician, told lawmakers the Wisconsin Medical Society opposed the bill because drug approvals should be based on science and left to the federal Food and Drug Administration.
"This is not the way to approve a new medicine," Miller said.
Marijuana is not a very strong painkiller, he said. Patients who need THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, to spur their appetite or combat nausea can get a prescription to Marinol, a synthetic version of the drug, he said.
Miller stressed the dangers of smoking the drug and said that is the primary way patients would use it, despite claims by advocates that many would eat it, or vaporize it and then inhale it. - "Medicinal pot bill stirs strong emotions on both sides of issue", Dec. 16, 2009, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
The Journal Sentinel article also noted testimony from the office of Republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, who opposes the bill.
"Make no mistake, the marijuana possession permitted by the bill to a user or caregiver is illegal under federal law, with penalties of up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000," Van Hollen said in written testimony to the committee.
Those charged with marijuana could more easily thwart prosecution in state court by claiming they had a medical condition, even if they were not on the state registry, Van Hollen said.
"If the bills are enacted as drafted, law enforcement's and prosecutors' ability to enforce what would still be illegal is seriously disabled . . . ," Van Hollen said. – “Medicinal pot bill stirs strong emotions on both sides of issue”, Dec. 16, 2009, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Milwaukee’s Fox affiliate, FOX 6, posted this video report by reporter Jennifer Reyes “Medical marijuana: To legalize or not” (Dec. 15, 2009).
Southwestern Wisconsin's Vernon County Broadcaster weighed in on the proceedings and Vukmir's harsh behavior with an editorial, concluding the bill needs to be passed.
A claim in the legislature, Tuesday, that the fight for medical marijuana was a ploy to legalize the drug, was reactionary. This argument is about helping people who are ill — nothing more.
The state of Wisconsin should join the 13 other states in the nation that have allowed for the use of medical marijuana. There is no substitute for this medicine. The excuses for continuing to keep its medicinal use illegal are not compelling.
-- “Medical marijuana should be allowed”, Dec. 16, 2009, Vernon County Broadcaster
Eau Claire’s WQOW tv offered this report on the hearings: "Wisconsin lawmakers discuss medical marijuana bill", Dec 15, 2009, Eau Claire (WQOW).
WEAU, another Eau Claire tv staion aired a report with some surprisingly supportive comments from the Eau Claire County District Attorney.
Eau Claire District Attorney Rich White says he doesn't think allowing marijuana to be given legally with a prescription will affect his office's case load.
"We'll deal with the legal consequences but I believe they will be relatively minimal,” says White.
White says it's up to the medical experts to decide whether prescriptions for marijuana are safe.
"That's no different than any advance in science, or the development of a new prescription drug," says White.
White says he doesn't think the legalization of medical marijuana in Wisconsin would lead to more prescriptions being forged. He says forging documents would carry felony charges. – “Public hearing in Madison reignites medical marijuana debate”, Dec. 15, 2009, WEAU.com
Unfortunately, with expert testimony at the front end of the hearing, most or all of the press had departed long before testimony from individual patients and supporters had started, outside of IMMLY's Jacki Rickert and Gary Storck who testified with Rep. Pocan and Sen. Erpenbach.
Amazing testimony and revelation after revelation of heroic personal struggles with illness and the healing powers of cannabis followed. Heartbreaking personal stories of pain and even arrests were peppered among them.
These stories can be seen and heard on Wisconsin Eye, which broadcast the hearing in its entirety live and has it archived for future viewing on their website.
For more info: List of qualifying medical conditions included in the JRMMA. For additional details on the Jacki Rickert Medical Marijuana Act, info on the Dec. 15 combined Health committee hearing, bill text and status, all the latest news and how you can help, visit JRMMA.org, IMMLY.org or MadisonNORML.org. Visit my Madison NORML Examiner articles archive.
December 14, 2009
IMMLY Statement on Jacki Rickert Medical Marijuana Act Hearings
Posted by Gary Storck
Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2009
Posted on the eve of a very historic event in Wisconsin: two committees meeting to hear testimony on a medical marijuana bill, and dozens of patients expected to attend to support the bill. It should be a memorable day for our state!
Is My Medicine Legal YET?
www.IMMLY.org & www.JRMMA.org
For immediate release: Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2009
IMMLY Statement on Jacki Rickert Medical Marijuana Act Hearings
Is My Medicine Legal YET? is looking forward to hearing from the people this bill is about - patients - at the combined health committee hearing on Tuesday Dec. 15, 2009.
And while many patients will be able to attend and share how cannabis benefits them, we remind committee members to be mindful that what they see and hear Tuesday only represents the proverbial "tip of the iceberg".
For every patient that can make their particular painful journey to Room 412 East of the State Capitol at 10am, there will be thousands more who will be unable. Some are bedridden, others may be isolated or without a means of transit. Some are just too scared to even say the "M" word and would not consider breaking the law even to save their own life, even if begged by family.
And there are those patients for whom the hearing comes too late, like our dear friend Mary Powers, a disabled Army veteran and IMMLY board member who lobbied tirelessly for passage of Wisconsin medical cannabis legislation, lobbying Capitol offices up until two weeks before her death Oct. 22, at 50 from cancer, AIDS and Hepatitis C. Mary did whatever she could but died without legal access to the life-sustaining medicine she fought so hard for.
IMMLY's 2002 poll and another from 2005 established that 70-80% of Wisconsinites support legal access with a doctor's note. The people of our state understand they may need this medicine some day. Passing the Jacki Rickert Medical Marijuana Act intact correctly removes this issue from the realm of the criminal justice system and places it squarely back where it belongs, in the hands of patients and their physicians. Medical cannabis is healthcare.
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 websites at www.IMMLY.org and www.JRMMA.org.
December 09, 2009
Health committee combined hearing is Tuesday, Dec. 15 for Wisconsin's Jacki Rickert MMJ Act
Posted by Gary Storck
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Below is my latest Examiner.com article.
MADISON: The Associated Press has now issued a correction of an erroneous report that went out Sunday stating next Tuesday's hearing was this Wednesday. The incorrect information was widely reported by numerous tv and radio stations, news websites and other sources.
The actual hearing date remains Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2009 at 10am in Room 412 East of the Wisconsin State Capitol, The Jacki Rickert Medical Marijuana Act (Assembly Bill 554/Senate Bill 368), is sponsored by Sen. Jon Erpenbach (D-Waunakee) and Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Madison).
The combined hearing will be held by two Wisconsin State Legislature Committees: the Assembly Committee on Public Health and the Senate Committee on Health, Health Insurance, Privacy, Property Tax Relief, and Revenue. The Senate committee is also chaired by Sen. Erpenbach.
For more info: List of qualifying medical conditions included in the JRMMA. For additional details on the Jacki Rickert Medical Marijuana Act, the Dec. 15 combined Health committee hearing, and how to submit testimony, bill text and status, all the latest news and how you can help, visit JRMMA.org, IMMLY.org or MadisonNORML.org. Visit my Madison NORML Examiner articles archive.
December 02, 2009
Wisconsin media continues heavy coverage of Jacki Rickert Medical Marijuana Act
Posted by Gary Storck
December 2, 2009
Below is a compilation of recent news articles about the Jacki Rickert MMJ Act. More are on the way.
MADISON: As support builds, Wisconsin media outlets continue to portray the Jacki Rickert Medical Marijuana Act in a favorable light. Patients are sharing their stories with reporters, resulting in some very moving personal stories of just how much cannabis can help people in our state who are suffering today
Below is a sampling of highlights from the last week.
On Wednesday Nov, 25, the day before Thanksgiving, The Capital Times published a 4000-word cover story by Cap Times reporter Steven Elbow that presented a very broad view of the issue, with many viewpoints represented.
(State Rep. Mark) Pocan says that with polls showing overwhelming support for medical marijuana in Wisconsin and wide support in neighboring states, Republicans have seen the writing on the wall.
"I'm sure they're hearing from their constituents," he says. "My guess is where they're used to just saying no, because that's kind of what they do when measures come up from Democrats, in this case I think they realize there's a real price back home to pay by just having an obstructionist agenda."
The article also explored the difficult choices faced by patients attempting to manage serious debilitating conditions, like MS patient Christine Harrington, whose husband was jailed for growing her medicine.
Crawford County District Attorney Tim Baxter didn't return calls for comment, but Christine Harrington says he was sensitive to her plight. Baxter agreed to a joint recommendation with John Harrington's attorney to hand him a light sentence that didn't include probation, allowing him to avoid potential prison time resulting from probation violations, which would have been a distinct possibility.
Having suffered drastic side effects from the steroid treatment prescribed by her physician -- including urinary, bladder, kidney and blood infections -- Christine Harrington says she has no intention to stop using marijuana, which she says alleviates her pain and nausea with no side effects.
Wisconsin's Gannett dailies also went directly to patients in seeking out how Wisconsinites might find relief through legal medical cannabis. Like other sources, they talked to patients already doing so already in spite of the law, simply because it works much better than standard toxic pharmaceuticals.
"If ( marijuana ) is going to help, I have to make a decision -- I don't use it and lose my job and go on disability, or do I take a risk here?" Chuck said.
"I can go from on the floor crying in pain to sitting relaxed in minutes with a minute amount of cannabis," said Chuck, who suffers from myotonic dystrophy, a disorder where the person suffers progressive muscle wasting. "I'm talking about two puffs."
The article was also picked up by the Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune on Sat, 28 Nov 2009: "State Mulls Legalization of Medical Cannabis".
Syndicated health columnist Dr. Peter Gott, an admitted tobacco consumer, displayed his old school roots with a recent backwards portrayal of the risks of smoking cannabis that was carried by the Wisconsin State Journal.
This was part of my response:
If Dr. Gott is so wrong about cannabis, how can we trust his other advice? The proper prescription would be to attend next April's cannabis conference. Patients Out of Time ( see: www.medicalcannabis.com ) presents these conferences every two years. Mary Lynn Mathre, a nurse and the group's cofounder, is scheduled to be in Madison on Dec. 15 for the combined Health committee hearing on the Jacki Rickert Medical Marijuana Act.
Dave Zweifel, the editor emeritus of The Capital Times, offered his own personal story of playing "cannabis angel", in this piece arguing that while medical should be an immediate priority, that it's time to legalize cannabis completely.
The time for Wisconsin to become the 15th state to allow patients to use pot to make their lives a bit more comfortable is long past due. My own father, who was suffering mightily from the pains of pancreatic cancer, found some relief from marijuana I was able to illegally purchase for him in the last weeks of his life.
That was more than 30 years ago and politicians still balk at allowing sick people the relief that marijuana can provide some of them. Hopefully, the Wisconsin Legislature will act quickly to legalize medical marijuana at the very least. Meanwhile the time has come for Congress to end the war on pot - period. We've got far better uses for all the money and resources.
Zweifel went on to talk about my medical use as noted in the Capitol press conference on Nov. 16.
Madison's Gary Storck, who has been pushing for decades to get the Legislature to legalize marijuana for medical purposes, put it bluntly the other day: "We're not criminals, we're just trying to get on with our lives."
Storck says he has been using marijuana since 1972 to treat his glaucoma and arthritis.
Some nice online commentary was provide on the website of Madisdon's weekly Isthmus, Isthmus.com, by columnist Emily Mills.
It’s ridiculous that pot has occupied the same class of dangerous drugs as LSD and heroin, and that penalties for possession and even small-scale grow operations have been so disproportionate. It’s even more ridiculous that our deeply ingrained and somewhat irrational fear of the stuff has led to such thorough stifling of important research—science that could help lead to a higher quality of life for those patients whose conditions would qualify them to use it.
Finally, The Scene, a Wisconsin monthly out of the Fox Valley, which devoted an entire issue to the First JRMMA in 2007, carried two articles about medical cannabis and the JRMMA in their Dec. 2009 edition.
"I cannot fathom the reluctance of my federal government to allow the use of medical cannabis for the sick and dying of the U.S.," (Federal patient Irvin) Rosenfeld said in a press release sent out to announce his world record. "My experience of use, the calming of my negative symptoms, that has allowed me to be a useful, contributing member of society must be extended to all the ill based on the judgment of medical professionals and not guided or restrained by the dictates of law enforcement who have no empathy for the ill nor the education to appropriately enter into doctor-patient relationships and treatment options."
Of the JRMMA, the Scene's Jim Lundstrom continued:
The Act has already drawn support from a number of state groups, including the Wisconsin Nurses Association, AIDS Resource Center of WI, Epilepsy Foundation of Southern WI, Hospice Organizations and Palliative Experts (HOPE), and the Wisconsin chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.
"As Jacki has put it, 'This bill, this time'," Storck said. "I have never felt this level of support before. People are fed up with being forced to use toxic meds. A lot of folks have no insurance. We are tired of looking over our shoulders, and buying medicine from drug cartels instead of dispensaries or getting it from caregivers."
The Scene's second article's focus discussed the efforts of myself and Mary Powers.
Mary's last day of lobbying was Oct. 7.
"She was using an oxygen tank," Storck said. "I took her into (Senate Republican leader) Scott Fitzgerald's office to show them the face of medical marijuana, after his spokesperson, Kimber Leidl, issued statements saying 'the risks outweighed the benefits'."
Mary Powers died in her sleep Oct. 22.
He also discussed my survibal of a 1997 post-surgical infection and my outlook on the JRMMA's chances.
"And I vowed that day that I would use this extra time I was given to see that medical cannabis was finally legal in Wisconsin. It's looking like, with a little luck and the blessings of the cannabis angels, that those efforts will soon come to fruition. But, there is still a lot of work yet, and the people of Wisconsin need to make their 80% support heard. But from a very long view, we are very close to the Promised Land."
A nice touch at the articles end was "Key Points Of The Jacki Rickert Medical Marijuana Act". Read entire article at the link below.
For all the latest updates on the Jacki Rickert MMJ Act and how you can help, visit IMMLY and Madison NORML's website, JRMMA.org. JRMMA.org also has detailed information on attending and submitting testimony at the upcoming Combined Health Committee hearing on Dec. 15, 10am, Room 412 East at the State Capitol here in Madison.
Mirrored online at: Madison NORML Examiner .