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News (Media Awareness Project) - US WI: Mixed Reviews For Medical Marijuana Bill
Title:US WI: Mixed Reviews For Medical Marijuana Bill
Published On:2011-12-04
Source:Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune (WI)
Fetched On:2011-12-06 06:00:39

Opponents of a bill that would allow marijuana use for medical
purposes in Wisconsin say there's not enough evidence the change is
needed in the state.

Introduced by state Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Madison, and Sen. Jon
Erpenbach, D-Middleton, the proposed Jacki Rickert Medical Marijuana
Act would give patients with various chronic conditions the option to
get a prescription for the drug from their doctors.

However, the issue, which previously failed to gain traction when
Democratic lawmakers introduced the bill a few years ago, is not a
topic of discussion at the Capitol, said state Rep. Scott Krug,
R-Wisconsin Rapids, who does not support the legislation.

"I don't think the science is there yet," Krug said, calling the
bill's introduction a publicity stunt for Pocan, who is running for
the 2nd Congressional District seat. "It's not that time in Wisconsin
right now."

The bill would create a medical necessity defense for
marijuana-related prosecutions if a person has a valid prescription
from a physician and an ID card from the state Department of Health
Services for such conditions as cancer, glaucoma, HIV and AIDS,
according to a news release from Pocan and Erpenbach. Currently, 16
states and the District of Columbia allow such use of the otherwise
illegal drug.

"Patients with a debilitating medical condition should not live in
fear of being prosecuted for using marijuana to ease their pain or
aid their healing," Erpenbach said in the release. "People deserve
compassionate legal treatment prescribed by their doctor."

Sen. Pam Galloway, R-Wausau, a board-certified surgeon who
specializes in the treatment of breast cancer, did not return a phone
message Friday from Central Wisconsin Sunday, but officials at the
Wisconsin Medical Society have said they think researchers first need
to further study the effects of marijuana on patients.

Dr. James Cleary, a palliative care physician at the UW Carbone
Cancer Center in Madison, agreed with the Medical Society's position,
saying prescription medications that mirror the effects of marijuana
already exist and officials should consider that method first.

"If this is to be used as a medical product, let's do the appropriate
studies," Cleary said, noting the Food and Drug Administration's
classification as a Schedule 1 medication limits such research.
"Let's change the schedule of this medication. Let's have appropriate
controls if we're going to do it."

Although the Medical Society recognizes the therapeutic effects of
marijuana, many medical professionals are leery about letting people
smoke it, which might encourage smoking in general, Cleary said,
noting a company in England currently is studying the feasibility of
creating an inhaled version of the drug, known as Sativex.

"If, in fact, we are doing so much on tobacco (prevention), why would
we approve a product that you're smoking?" Cleary said.

Meanwhile, Jacki Rickert of Mondovi, founder of the Madison-based
advocacy group Is My Medicine Legal YET?, said there should be
urgency with the bill that bears her name.

"They need it now, not next time," Rickert said in a statement. "How
many people are going to have a next time? Maybe next time I won't be
around. ... Things really need to be done to make it a reality."

Wood County Sheriff's Department Investigator-Sgt. Scott Saeger, the
county's drug enforcement officer, said making medical marijuana
legal likely would not affect the way law enforcement agencies handle
drug cases. He compared the bill to the recently enacted concealed carry law.

"If they had their identification on them -- if they've got their
proper credentials -- they're OK," Saeger said, noting patients using
their prescriptions to supply others with the drug could lead to
misuse. "It could definitely become a sticky situation -- just like
any other law in the state."
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