Pubdate: Mon, 24 May 2004
Source: Wausau Daily Herald (WI)
Copyright: 2004 Wausau Daily Herald
Author:  Gary Storck
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)


I last wrote in January about a medical marijuana bill introduced in the
Wisconsin legislature by Oshkosh Republican Rep. Gregg Underheim. In my
letter, published in the Daily Herald under the headline "Support Medical
Marijuana Bill," I said that "failing to pass this bill this session means
that suffering Wisconsinites who can benefit from medicinal cannabis will
have to continue to choose between breaking the law or going without and
suffering needlessly for another two years. Many will not live that long;
some will die today."

While the Legislature managed to pass "critical" legislation such as the
declaration of the cranberry as the official state fruit and banning obese
patrons from suing restaurants for making them overweight, it kept
Underheim's bill bottled up in the Assembly Health Committee he chairs. The
Assembly leadership would not even allow Underheim to hold a hearing on the

When there is an emergency, we call 911. When someone is having a health
crisis, we rush him to a hospital. But where is the urgency on medical
marijuana? It has been shown time and time again to be an essential tool in
preserving and extending life when other options have failed. Making sure
someone you care about has proper pain relief should not mean that one has
to turn to the black market for medicine of uncertain quality and safety.

But this is exactly what is happening now. Only 14 additional lawmakers were
willing to sign on as co-sponsors despite the fact the issue has
overwhelming popular support, regardless of party affiliation.

Underheim's bill ended up being the 892nd bill introduced in the Assembly in
the 2003-2004 session. With all 99 Assembly seats and half of the 33-seat
state Senate up for election this year, voters need to take the time to find
out where candidates stand on medical marijuana and support those who will
make this public health issue a priority.

There are no guarantees when it comes to health. For the sake of those
suffering today, and the memories of those who are no longer with us, when
the new session convenes in January, medical marijuana should be one of the
first bills introduced - a priority, not an afterthought.

Gary Storck is a Madison-based medical marijuana advocate who works with Is
My Medicine Legal YET?, the Drug Policy Forum of Wisconsin and Wisconsin
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