By Noelle Crombie, The Oregonian
Twice in the past two years, Gary Storck has boarded Amtrak's Empire Builder outside his hometown of Madison, Wis., and headed west to Oregon. The trip takes about 40 hours and costs more then $1,000 – all for something that makes the illegal legal.
He pays a visit to one of the state's 15 or so medical marijuana clinics, fills out an application and sees a doctor. Storck walks out an hour later, the proud holder of an Oregon-issued medical marijuana card. It's a process he'll have to go through each year to keep the card.
Storck, 56, is one of hundreds of out-of-staters who each year make an unusual pilgrimage to Oregon – the only state in the country to issue medical marijuana cards to non-residents.
"It's not a bad place to visit," said Storck, who has used marijuana for four decades to treat glaucoma and other chronic ailments. "It lifts my spirits to be in a place where medical cannabis is legal and life goes on."
Some users of medical marijuana go through the effort to acquire an Oregon card because it allows them to use the drug legally when they're in the state. Others hope it provides some legal protection if they're arrested in a state where medical marijuana is outlawed. Many out-of-staters see an Oregon card as important recognition that their use of the drug is legally recognized somewhere in the United States.
By Gary Storck, Madison NORML/Special to Hemp News
MADISON - Wisconsin medical cannabis patients and advocates will have something extra to celebrate this holiday season with news that State Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Madison) has scheduled a press conference to announce a new attempt to pass a state medical cannabis law. The press conference is set for the State Capitol's Assembly Parlor (2nd Floor West) on Wednesday, Nov. 30, at 1:00 pm.
Rep. Pocan's office has confirmed that he and State Sen. Jon Erpenbach (D-Waunakee) will again be the lead sponsors of the legislation, LRB-2466/1, again dubbed the Jacki Rickert Medical Marijuana Act (JRMMA). They will also be sending a letter to their colleagues asking if they would like to cosponsor the legislation.
In the 2009-2010 session, the JRMMA received an 8-plus hour combined Senate/Assembly Health Committee public hearing that drew hundreds of patients. State organizations including the Wisconsin Nurses Association (WNA), Hospice Organization and Palliative Experts (HOPE) and the WI ACLU testified in support along with representatives of national groups including Patients Out of Time (POT), the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) and the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). Opposition testimony was limited to a handful of groups who support the status quo of arresting and jailing medical users including the Wisconsin Medical Society (SMS), and the Wisconsin Narcotics Officers Association (WNOA).
By Gary Storck, Madison NORML
MADISON: Wisconsin’s medical cannabis movement has matured into a fully state wide effort. There were scores of rallies Saturday at Wisconsin Wal-Mart’s supporting AB554 and protesting the chain’s firing of a Michigan medical marijuana patient with cancer. People spoke up, stepped up, organized their first medical cannabis events ever. Saturday, March 27, 2010 truly represents the high-water mark of this movement so far, and shows that Wisconsin advocates have statewide reach and influence.
Eau Claire, La Crosse, Berlin, Green Bay, Onalaska, Stevens Point/Plover, Oshkosh, Appleton, Fond du Lac, Madison, three Milwaukee Wal-Marts, Waukesha, Hartford, Kenosha, Racine and West Bend were among locations reporting rallies.
The events received media coverage both before and after in print, online and television. The Madison rally at the East Side Wal-Mart on Nakoosa Trail that I was at was covered by both WKOW (Ch. 27) as well as WMTV (Ch. 15). Footage from Madison aired on Fox 6 in Milwaukee. WEAU in Eau Claire covered the rally there. And there was other tv coverage across the state including Fox 11 Green Bay.
By Gary Storck, Madison NORML Examiner
State medical cannabis activists have established a daily presence at the Wisconsin State Capitol in Madison to push for passage of the Jacki Rickert Medical Marijuana Act as the 2009-2010 legislative session winds down. There is a real sense of urgency and interest in the bill that extends from rural townships and villages across the state to the largest cities to people watching from around the country. A vast coalition of people across the state are getting involved, enlisting others and doing whatever they can to get the JRMMA passed: "This Bill, This Time!"
"Operation Floodgates" is an organized campaign aimed to highlight the urgency of the issue, to make people aware a bill is being considered and to allow constituents to act now and help legislators find the compassion and logic to allow the use of medical marijuana.
The daily presence on Wisconsin's Capitol Hill will soon be enhanced with the planned opening of a Wisconsin NORML office close to the Capitol. This will also create a place for supporters to help out, pick up literature, learn strategies and skills, etc.
by Gary Storck
MADISON: For nearly 20 years, dating back to the middle years of Tommy Thompson's 14 years as governor, medical cannabis supporters began holding vigil outside the Governor's State of the State Address (SOTS) to the Legislature and other state officials. On January 26, 2010, they were outside the Assembly Chambers once again, with their leader Jacki Rickert.
Supporters spoke with lawmakers heading in to watch Gov. Doyle with several stopping to warmly greet Jacki, including bill sponsors Rep. Mark Pocan, (D-Madison), and Sen. Jon Erpenbach, (D-Waunakee) as well as Rep. Penny Bernard Schaber (D-Appleton) and Rep. Jeff Smith (D-Eau Claire).
Medical cannabis supporters called out to Gov. Doyle as he ascended the stairs leading to the Assembly Chamber. He looked over at supporters with signs and a "Medical Marijuana is Healthcare" banner held by patients.
Most JRMMA supporters held vigil while others watched the SOTS from the gallery. JRMMA Media was also on hand, taking photos, filming video and doing interviews. Once the Address was over, supporters fanned out, speaking with individual lawmakers. We spoke to Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Madison), after the speech, and he remains hopeful that the JRMMA can move this session. One supporter even managed to talk to medical cannabis arch-opponent Rep. Leah Vukmir (R-Wauwatosa).
By SCOTT BAUER, Associated Press
MADISON, Wis. A Republican opponent to allowing medical marijuana in Wisconsin accused Democratic backers Tuesday of using chronically ill patients to push a secret agenda of making pot legal for everyone.
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 the assistance of canes. Supporters say marijuana helps patients deal with diseases, cancer treatments and other ailments by relieving them of pain and nausea.
Vukmir said there was 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.
By Gary Storck, Madison NORML
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.