Pubdate: Wed, 07 Dec 2005
Source: Badger Herald (U of WI, Madison, WI Edu)
Copyright: 2005 Badger Herald
Author: Bruce Mirken
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)


Julie Isen makes a number of important points in her column 
supporting legal access to medical marijuana ("Medical marijuana hits 
Legislature," Dec. 6). Unfortunately, she seems unclear regarding 
some of the provisions of Rep. Gregg Underheim's bill, AB 740.

Isen is incorrect when she states that the bill "merely provides a 
defense" for patients who get caught, while leaving the law against 
marijuana possession intact. Under Rep. Underheim's legislation, 
legally qualified patients would be allowed to possess up to 2.5 
ounces of marijuana and would not be subject to arrest.

Isen also objects to the fact that the legislation allows doctors 
only to recommend marijuana but not to prescribe it, and that it 
doesn't address the issue of how patients can obtain marijuana. While 
many agree that the best solution would be to allow the doctor to 
write a prescription that the patient could have filled at the 
pharmacy of his or her choice, federal law presently makes this impossible.

Prescriptions are governed by federal law, and federal law 
specifically bans marijuana prescriptions, erroneously classifying it 
(along with heroin and LSD) as a drug with no medical use. Until this 
changes, states are left with little ability to create a safe, 
well-regulated system for patient access to medical marijuana.

What states can do, however, is protect patients from arrest under 
state law, which is what AB 740 would do. Passage would also send an 
important signal to the federal government that it's time to bring 
federal marijuana laws into the 21st century.

Bruce Mirken is director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project.
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