Madison NORML

Wisconsin: Capitol press conference to launch new medical cannabis bill

By Gary Storck, Madison NORML/Special to Hemp News

There is a truth that must be heard! 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).

United States: Ben Masel, Freedom Fighter, Dies Too Young

By Paul Stanford, Hemp News Director

There is a truth that must be heard! Ben Masel was, beginning in his teens, a leader and activist for freedom and cannabis. Ben was brilliant, incisive and a Grand Master chess champion. He was a seemingly fearless advocate who spent his life supporting others and working for freedom and justice. I am proud and honored to count Ben Masel as an associate, mentor and friend.

Ben was the primary force behind the Great Midwest Marijuana Harvest Fest in Madison, Wisconsin, which happens in late September every year since 1970. Until the Seattle Hempfest emerged in the late 90s, it was the largest pro-marijuana rally in the world. I was honored to speak at the Great Midwest Marijuana Harvest Fest in the late 1980s and early 1990s. It was truly empowering and inspirational to march the half mile from the University of Wisconsin campus down State Street, with 15,000+ others, to the Wisconsin State Capitol in the early Autumn sunshine, the colorful Wisconsin foliage and the crisp clean air. Ben also was a driving force behind Wisconsin's annual Weedstock protestival. The Great Midwest Marijuana Harvest Fest continues today and is still one of the largest pro-cannabis events in the world.

United States: Celebrating the Life of Wisconsin Activist Ben Masel

An activism pioneer who inspired many, Ben Masel loses battle with lung cancer

By Michael Bachara, Hemp News Correspondent

There is a truth that must be heard! Madison, Wisconsin - A lifelong activist, Ben Masel, has died after his battle with lung cancer. As the Hemp and Cannabis Community and many others mourn this great loss, we must also remember what Masel spent most of his life fighting for and continue on the path he helped to blaze.

Over the course of his life, Masel traveled countless miles and spent innumerable hours voicing his ideas and fighting for the rights of his fellows. Even in the face of opposition, he continued to speak out in favor of hemp and cannabis legalization, freedom of speech and the ability of people who make a stand to make a difference.

Masel's life-long passion project, Madison, Wisconsin's Great Midwest Marijuana Harvest Festival, began as a marijuana smoke-in in 1971. The Harvest Festival, now celebrating its 41st year, has a long history of promoting cannabis hemp legalization and free speech while providing an annual celebration for like minded people to join together.

Wisconsin: Scores of Medical Cannabis Rallies Boost Wisconsin's Jacki Rickert MMJ Act

By Gary Storck, Madison NORML

There is a truth that must be heard! 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.

Wisconsin: Medical Cannabis Activists Swarm Capitol for ongoing "Operation Floodgates"

By Gary Storck, Madison NORML Examiner

Wisconsin: Medical Cannabis Activists Swarm Capitol for ongoing 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.

Wisconsin: The State of State Medical Marijuana Patients Remains Hazy

by Gary Storck

Wisconsin: The State of State Medical Marijuana Patients Remains Hazy 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).

Wisconsin: Sides Square Off Over Medical Marijuana

By SCOTT BAUER, Associated Press

There is a truth that must be heard! 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.

Wisconsin: Public Hearing On Medical Marijuana Bill

By Steve Elliott, Toke of the Town for Hemp News

There is a truth that must be heard! The Wisconsin Legislature will hold a public hearing Tuesday to debate SB 368, the Jacki Rickert Medical Marijuana Act, which would allow seriously ill patients to use cannabis without fear of arrest if their doctor recommends it.

The hearing will be at 10 a.m., Tuesday, Dec. 15, at the State Capitol, Room 412 East, Madison, Wis.

Qualifying patients with doctors' notes could grow their own marijuana or obtain it from "compassion centers" around the state if the bill becomes law.

Wisconsin is working to become the 14th state to allow medical marijuana. Legislation is in the works in at least 14 other states, according to Mike Meno, assistant director of communications at the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP).

The bill is the namesake of Jacki Rickert, a 58-year-old grandmother from Mondovi who has Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and advanced reflex sympathetic dystrophy, and who founded medical marijuana advocacy organization Is My Medicine Legal Yet? (IMMLY) in 1992.

Rickert led hundreds of medical marijuana supporters in an October rally at the Wisconsin State Capitol in support of the legislation bearing her name.

The House Public Health Committee and Senate Committee on Health, Health Insurance, Privacy, Property Tax Relief, and Revenue will host the hearing on the bill, which is sponsored by state Rep. Mark Pocan and state Sen. Jon Erpenbach.

Wisconsin: Media Continues Heavy Coverage of Jacki Rickert Medical Marijuana Act

By Gary Storck, Madison NORML

Wisconsin: Hearing Wednesday on Legalizing Medical Marijuana 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.

Wisconsin: Democrats Support Medical Marijuana - Jacki Rickert Medical Marijuana Act

Two state lawmakers are pushing for legalization of marijuana for medicinal use in Wisconsin. Sen. Jon Erpenbach (D-Waunakee) and Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Madison) named their proposal after Jacki Rickert, who led a 210-mile wheelchair journey in the state to advocate for medical marijuana.

By Associated Press

Wisconsin: Democrats Support Medical Marijuana - Jacki Rickert Medical Marijuana Act MADISON, Wis. - Supporters of legalizing marijuana for medical purposes say the time is right to change the law in Wisconsin.

Two Democratic state lawmakers announced on Monday that a bill they are co-sponsoring to legalize medical marijuana will be the subject of a public hearing on Dec. 15. Sen. Jon Erpenbach of Waunakee says he thinks there is enough support to get it passed.

He and Assembly co-sponsor Rep. Mark Pocan of Madison were joined by advocacy groups and patients who say using marijuana can help those ill with cancer regain their appetite and deal with pain from their diseases and treatments.

Thirteen states have legalized medical marijuana and Gov. Jim Doyle last month said he would support it if users have a doctor's prescription.



Wisconsin: Marijuana Activist's Case Against UW Police Officers Ends in Hung Jury

By Kevin Murphy, The Capital Times

An excessive force lawsuit brought against two University of Wisconsin-Madison police officers by marijuana activist Ben Masel, 55, of Madison, ended Tuesday night in a hung jury.

After a two-day trial, the seven-person jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict on whether Officers Mike Mansavage and John McCaughtry used more force than necessary when arresting Masel for trespassing at the Memorial Union in June 2006.

Masel had been soliciting signatures to get on the ballot for the U.S. Senate while on a sidewalk near the Memorial Terrace, an area not designated for such activity by UW policy. Masel refused to leave the area when requested by Memorial Union event managers who then called UW police to enforce the policy.

Masel alleged he was pepper sprayed and "brutally handcuffed," when arrested. He sued the officers alleging use of excessive force. He also sued the Memorial Union employees and the UW Board of Regents claiming their policy, which limits political activity of uninvited guests to the sidewalk in front of the union, infringed on his free speech rights and was unconstitutional.

District Judge John Shabaz dismissed Masel's constitutional claim, citing case law that allows public universities to restrict activities of uninvited guests on their property as long as the policy is applied equally to all individuals. Shabaz allowed the excessive force claim to go to trial.

Wisconsin: Time to Legalize Medical Marijuana

Posted by Gary Storck, Madison NORML

Just back from a visit to the WI State Capitol where the Assembly's new Democratic majority was being sworn in. Now, for the first time in nearly 25 years, the Governor's office, State Assembly and State Senate are all under Democratic control. This means that medical cannabis legislation now has the best chance of moving in the legislature it has possibly ever, if given strong support from state residents.

Today, the State Journal published a letter I sent along those lines:

Source: Letter to the Editor: Wisconsin State Journal: Time to legalize medical marijuana

[Madison NORML News]

Michigan: Detroit Metro Times Lampoons Opponents of MI Medical Cannabis Initiative

Posted by Gary Storck, Madison NORML

Here is a piece by Detroit's Metro Times chronicling some of the pathetic lies opponents used in Michigan. Voters, of course, were not fooled and passed Prop 1 easily, by a 10% higher margin than Barack Obama received in winning Michigan.


[Madison NORML News]

Michigan: New Rules Need Revision, Say Medical Marijuana Advocates

By Eartha Jane Melzer, Michigan Messenger

Advocates say the state’s plan for administering a new medical marijuana law, approved by state voters on Nov. 4, focuses too much on law enforcement concerns and not enough on health.

Michigan’s medical marijuana law–which passed in every county while winning 63 percent of the vote–allows people with qualifying medical conditions to grow 12 marijuana plants and/or possess 2.5 oz. of marijuana for medicinal use. Those who use marijuana medicinally may also designate a caregiver to grow the drug for them. The mood-altering plant relieves chronic pain and nausea.

The Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) has proposed rules for the program a scheduled hearing of those rules takes place 9 a.m. Monday, Jan. 5, at the state secondary complex general office building in Lansing.

Patient advocates say they see many shortcomings in the proposed rules.

“I think they were written by people who don’t have a clear idea of how something like this would work,“ said Greg Francisco, director of the Michigan Medical Marijuana Association (MMMA), an education and advocacy group for patients and caregivers. “I think they [MDCH] took on some responsibilities and roles that were not given in the law.”

The rules suggest the state envisions its role as one of law enforcement, not administering a public health program, Francisco said, adding that MMMA has compiled 21 concerns with the draft rules which it will air at the Jan. 5 hearing.


By Chris Rickert, Madison NORML

Wisconsin - President Bush and the two leading presidential contenders were urging lawmakers to take one for the good of the country Tuesday and pass a highly unpopular Wall Street bailout package.

Some drug-reform advocates, meanwhile, were suggesting that a better way out of the current financial mess would be to toke one for the country.

"Society could get a great deal of funding by bringing cannabis into our society," said Gary Storck, co-founder of the Madison chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.

More specifically, legalizing and taxing marijuana and industrial hemp could open up a lucrative revenue stream and help offset a $700 billion taxpayer outlay to save the country's financial system.

"Why not look at it?" said Storck, who likens the idea to President Roosevelt's support for ending prohibition during the Depression. "We need the money. How else are we going to get it?"

The possible fiscal boon of legalizing marijuana has long been an argument put forth by NORML and like-minded groups, who point to studies showing that the government could be billions of dollars to the good if it taxed the plant and ended its marijuana-related law enforcement efforts.

Bruce Mirken, director of communications with the Washington, D.C.-based Marijuana Policy Project, said legalization and regulation could mean between $10 billion and $40 billion a year to state and federal budgets.

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