Thursday, December 1, 2011

Medical marijuana calls for compassion, understanding

If you had the power to make a decision that would help someone who is sick and suffering, you’d do it, wouldn’t you?

Today, Senator Erpenbach and I reintroduced a bill that would provide compassion to the sick and suffering. Our bill would legalize medical marijuana in Wisconsin.

 Ten years ago, when I first introduced this legislation, 8 states had laws on the books regarding medical marijuana. Today, 16 states and the District of Columbia have laws that have laws that allow the cultivation of medical marijuana and protect patients from criminal penalties.

This is an issue where the public has been ahead of the policy makers. A November 18th CBS News poll showed that 77% of Americans believe that medical marijuana should be allowed. The most recent statewide public referendum from the Midwest, which happened in Michigan in 2008, won support from every single county in the state with an overall tally of 63% in support.

Clearly, there’s momentum to support this issue, and I’m proud to be the lead author in the Assembly on this bill yet again.

Our bill covers conditions such as cancer, glaucoma, AIDS and HIV and other diseases as could be determined by administrative rule. The bill also creates a maximum amount of marijuana a patient may have, establishing clear limits for both the patient and law enforcement. Finally, the bill gives the Department of Health Services the ability to create rules for a registry of people allowed to use medical marijuana and for the licensing and regulation of a non-profit corporation to distribute marijuana.

Wisconsin is sadly amongst the 34 states still don’t provide compassion to the sick and suffering. Each and every one of my colleagues has a chance to help someone who is sick and suffering and I hope they take the time to research this important issue and talk to patients.

I think once they take the time to understand this topic, they will be unable to turn away people in need.