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June 25, 2010

OPED: Lawmakers to sick people: We don't care

Posted by Gary Storck
Friday, June 25, 2010

The Isthmus was kind enough to provide me with space to express the heartbreak that careless, uncompassionate Wisconsin lawmakers have caused some of our moat vulnerable citizens. We cannot return people who care so little to office at any level!

Source: Isthmus (Madison WI Weekly)
Pubdate: 24 June 2010
Author: Gary Storck

LAWMAKERS TO SICK PEOPLE: WE DON'T CARE

Rejection of Wisconsin medical marijuana bill was a profile in cowardice

Jason Glaspie did everything he could. The former Marine, a veteran of the first Iraq war, has endured numerous treatments for brain and spinal cancer that left him disabled and often in terrible pain. One thing that alleviates his suffering is smoking marijuana.

And so when it looked as though Wisconsin might join the 14 other states (and the District of Columbia) that allow the medicinal use of cannabis, Glaspie became an activist for the cause.

The Fitchburg resident attended hearings and events held in support of the proposed bill. He starred in a TV commercial on the issue and let his story be told in the press. And, in the end, like hundreds of other people in Wisconsin, he was bitterly disappointed. The bill died in the just-ended legislative session after state lawmakers failed to bring it forward for a vote.

"The bill's failure to pass forces patients to make the horrible choice between [enduring pain] and being a criminal," says Glaspie. "I should not have to fear prosecution just because I want to move around without my cane. People with chronic health issues have enough on their plates without adding more fear."

But fear is what they are left with. The political structure of the state of Wisconsin has given them the back of their hand. Again.

Just ask former Marine Sgt. Erin Silbaugh (videos here and here), who served three tours in the current Iraq war, returning with severe post-traumatic stress disorder. The Lodi resident recalls a conversation with his Assemblyman, Rep. Keith Ripp (R-Lodi). He asked if Ripp cared that Silbaugh had to risk arrest and jail to treat his service-related disability. Ripp, he says, responded by shrugging his shoulders.

"I've been on over 10 different prescriptions provided by the VA to control my PTSD since returning from Iraq, each with its own list of side effects," says Silbaugh. "Why won't the Legislature allow me to use something less harmful and more helpful?"

Why indeed?

The Jacki Rickert Medical Marijuana Act, sponsored by Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Madison) and Sen. Jon Erpenbach (D-Waunakee), was launched with high expectations at a packed Capitol press conference in November 2009.

A joint public hearing on the bill held on Dec. 15 ran more than eight hours. In all, 105 people spoke in support, including patients, family members, state patient advocates, nursing and hospice groups, health-care workers and the state ACLU. Patients reported wide success with cannabis and almost uniformly expressed how conventional medications didn't work or had intolerable side effects.

Only five people testified against the bill, including representatives of Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, the Wisconsin Medical Society, Narcotics Officers Association and the Controlled Substances Board.

The bill also enjoyed broad public support and backing from the editorial boards of all major state newspapers. But none of that was enough to keep the bill from dying in committee, extending a streak dating back to the mid-1990s.

What happened?

In short, the death of this bill is one more reminder that state politics is more about politics than people. In today's heated political climate, compromise and bipartisanship are considered flaws.

The Republican leadership decided early on to oppose the bill. At the Dec. 15 hearing, Sens. Mary Lazich (R-New Berlin) and Alberta Darling (R-River Falls) joined Reps. Leah Vukmir (R-Wauwatosa) and Pat Strachota (R-West Bend) in an all-out assault. Vukmir's attacks were so nasty they provoked loud booing and jeers from offended attendees.

With GOP lawmakers in full "Party of No" form, responsibility for passing the bill fell to Democrats. Support at the hearing came from Erpenbach, Tim Carpenter (D-Milwaukee) and Judy Robson (D-Beloit).

But Julie Lassa (D-Stevens Point) appeared uninterested. While Wisconsin veterans, seniors, sick, disabled and dying waited months for a committee vote, the buck stopped with Lassa. Rather than being a leader and working to find a compromise, she did nothing, and the bill died in committee.

As this sad drama played out, Jacki Rickert and I heard from hundreds of Wisconsin patients; their stories often brought us to tears. Good people with the bad fortune to have a life of pain, and the even greater misfortune of living in Wisconsin, where a majority of the Legislature doesn't care.

Rickert says she's reminded of what she told candidate Bill Clinton in 1992 after he promised to look into her unfilled federal medical marijuana prescription: "Sir, please don't say it if you don't mean it. I don't think I can stand it to have another bubble broken. I don't think I could take any more."

Clinton broke his promise.

Gary Storck is president of Wisconsin NORML and a member of Is My Medicine Legal Yet? He urges supporters to visit JRMMA.org to learn about efforts to put advisory referendums supporting medical marijuana on local ballots around the state this November, including Dane County.

Posted by Gary at 01:03 PM | Comments (0)

June 18, 2010

Madison NORML Examiner: Medical Marijuana Supporters at Leah Vukmir campaign event outnumber Vukmir fans

Posted by Gary Storck
Friday, June 18, 2010

Here is my report on the protest at the Leah Vukmir fundraiser in downtown Madison Thursday, June 17, 2010. You can read original article with photos.

Medical Marijuana Supporters at Leah Vukmir campaign event outnumber Vukmir fans

June 18, 10:35 AM
Madison NORML Examiner
Gary Storck

MADISON: Medical marijuana advocates protesting an appearance by anti-medical cannabis zealot Rep. Leah Vukmir (R-Wauwatosa) at a downtown restaurant Thursday evening outnumbered her supporters . The event was a fundraiser at Madison’s restaurant in downtown Madison for Vukmir’s Senate campaign against Sen. Jim Sullivan (D-Wauwatosa). Vukmir, who shocked attendees with a vitriolic attack on medical marijuana patients at a Dec. 15, 2009 public hearing on the Jacki Rickert Medical Marijuana Act, is giving up her Assembly seat in an attempt to move up to State Senate.

The medical marijuana activists who gathered at the corner of King St. and E. Wilson just a block from the State Capitol received continuous honks of support from passing motorists. Passersby of all ages were extremely supportive of medical marijuana, often stopping to chat or lend support. Several joined those protesting and held signs..

Even more amazing were a number of acknowledgements of support for medical cannabis from people attending the Vukmir event. Even Sen. Glenn Grothman (R-West Bend) had nothing negative to say either about our presence or the issue of medical cannabis as he stopped to talk to advocates both before and after his short visit to the event.

Rep. Vukmir herself seemed unprepared that a downtown Madison fundraiser would attract so much attention from those who strongly disagree with her uncompassionate and brutal opposition to allowing state veterans, seniors, the sick, disabled, the dying to utilize this ancient remedy legally in the Badger State. Her and her party nearly collided with protesters as she rounded the corner of King St. to head in to the event.

Another sign of public support came after Vukmir and crew had departed as advocates were preparing to pack up, a pizza delivery guy showed up with two large pepperoni and cheese pizzas! Supporters happily devoured the impromptu dinner, which appeared to be a little more robust than what Vukmir supporters were paying as much as $1000 a head for.

Read original article with photos.

Posted by Gary at 11:17 AM | Comments (0)

June 14, 2010

Dane County Alert – Ask Your County Supervisor to Sign On to Medical Cannabis Advisory Referendum Resolution

Posted by Gary Storck
Monday, June 14, 2010

Good news as the Advisory Referendum campaign moves forward. (See JRMMA.org for more details on the advisry referendum plans.) If you live in Dane County please contact your County Supervisor and ask them to sign on. Details are below.

Dane County Alert – Ask Your County Supervisor to Sign On to Medical Cannabis Advisory Referendum Resolution

Monday, June 14, 2010

A resolution placing a Medical Cannabis advisory referendum on the Dane County ballot this November is being circulated by District 6 Supervisor John Hendrick for supervisors to sign on at the Thursday June 17 County Board Meeting. The resolution will be formally considered at a later date.

The resolution would place this question on the Dane County November general election ballot: "Should the Wisconsin Legislature enact legislation allowing residents with debilitating medical conditions to acquire and possess marijuana for medical purposes if supported by their physician?"

If you live in Dane County, please contact your County Supervisor and ask them to sign on to the “Referendum On Medical Marijuana” resolution!

If you would like to find the supervisor of your district but do not know which district you live in, you can view a map of the supervisory districts at: http://www.countyofdane.com/lio/supervisorydistricts.asp

The following information can be viewed online at: http://www.countyofdane.com/board/supervisors.aspx

District Name Phone Email
1 Scott McDonell
608/259-9506 mcdonell@co.dane.wi.us
2 Barbara Vedder
(608) 249-8428 vedder.barbara@co.dane.wi.us
3 Donald Imhoff
(608) 241-3937 imhoff.donald@co.dane.wi.us
4 Brett Hulsey
608/238-6070 hulsey@co.dane.wi.us
5 Analiese Eicher
(608) 449-5218 eicher@co.dane.wi.us
6 John Hendrick
446-4842 hendrick@co.dane.wi.us
7 Matt Veldran
Cell (608) 235-8369 veldran@co.dane.wi.us
8 Carousel Andrea Bayrd
608/442-6294 bayrd@co.dane.wi.us
9 Dianne Hesselbein
219-8127 hesselbein@co.dane.wi.us
10 Jeremy Levin
(608) 577-9335 levin.jeremy@co.dane.wi.us
11 Al Matano
608/238-3045 matano@co.dane.wi.us
12 Paul Rusk
608/249-9667 rusk@co.dane.wi.us
13 Chuck Erickson
608-251-3622 erickson.chuck@co.dane.wi.us
14 Melanie Hampton
(608) 273-9149 hampton.melanie@co.dane.wi.us
15 Ronn Ferrell
695-1321 ronnferrell15@charter.net
16 Dave de Felice
(608) 222-0319 defelice@co.dane.wi.us
17 Tom Stoebig
608/222-6429 stoebig@co.dane.wi.us
18 Melissa Sargent
cell (608) 220-2273 sargent@co.dane.wi.us
19 Bill Clausius
(608) 825-1465 clausius@co.dane.wi.us
20 Duane Gau
(608) 320-1100 gau@co.dane.wi.us
21 David Wiganowsky
608/837-8604 wiganowsky@co.dane.wi.us
22 Dennis O'Loughlin
608/846-1851 oloughlin@co.dane.wi.us
23 Shelia Stubbs
608/223-1684 stubbs@co.dane.wi.us
24 Robin Schmidt
221-0514 schmidt.robin@co.dane.wi.us
25 Eileen Bruskewitz
608/249-9188 bruskewitz@co.dane.wi.us
26 Sharon Corrigan
(608) 333-2285 corrigan@co.dane.wi.us
27 Kyle Richmond
608/251-3171 richmond.kyle@co.dane.wi.us
28 Kurt Schlicht
(608) 576-9897 schlicht.kurt@co.dane.wi.us
29 Dave Ripp
608/849-7643 ripp.david@co.dane.wi.us
30 Patrick Downing
608/527-2472 downing@co.dane.wi.us
31 Gerald Jensen
(608) 835-7389 jensen.gerald@co.dane.wi.us
32 Mike Willett
(608) 845-8503 willett@co.dane.wi.us
33 Jack Martz
608/274-7437 martz@co.dane.wi.us
34 Patrick Miles
(608) 838-6866 miles@co.dane.wi.us
35 Denise Duranczyk
(608) 873-8302 duranczyk@co.dane.wi.us
36 Cynda Solberg
(608) 839-9583 solberg@co.dane.wi.us
37 Bob Salov
608/423-4358 salov@co.dane.wi.us

Posted by Gary at 11:46 PM | Comments (1)