Medical cannabis supporters unite

September 18, 2007

Cara Harshman, Badger Herald (WI)

Is your medicine legal?

Jacki Rickert’s isn’t. The Wisconsin mother suffers from several incurable medical conditions and says the only effective treatment is marijuana.

Rickert joined two state legislators and other medical marijuana supporters Tuesday for a press conference to announce the introduction of new medical marijuana legislation.

Tuesday was a symbolic day for Rickert, as it marks the 10-year anniversary of the “Journey-for-Justice,” a 210-mile trek across the state Rickert and an entourage of medical marijuana supporters made in their wheelchairs that ended at the Capitol.

In honor of Rickert, Rep. Frank Boyle, D-Superior, and Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Madison, named the new legislation the “Jacki Rickert Medical Marijuana Act”.

“I’m real proud that for the first time we are giving the bill a real name,” Boyle said. “This bill will forever be known as the Jacki Rickert Bill.”

Rickert is the founder and patient coordinator of Is My Medicine Legal Yet?, a non-profit group dedicated to spreading awareness, furthering access to and research of marijuana for medical use.

“We know it works. We know it’s not going to kill us,” Rickert said. “I have never had an allergic reaction to a God-given herb.”

IMMLY efforts are meant to support those with a variety of chronic and fatal medical conditions. If passed, patients would have to qualify with the Department of Health and Family Services to receive medicinal marijuana.

Pocan said victims of cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, persistent seizures and muscle spasms would be eligible to qualify for medical marijuana under this legislation.

“If someone [has the] written consent of their physician or [has] obtained a valid registry card from the DHFS, … they would be allowed to have the possession or be able to grow a certain amount of medicinal marijuana,” Pocan said.

Medicinal marijuana, the IMMLY believes, can benefit people of all ages.

The youngest supporter at the conference was 21 year old Lynn. Diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis at the age of 19, she lost her sight, mobility and independence from the disease. Lynn has smoked marijuana for an extended period of time and said it helped her finally become able to move out of her parent’s house.

“If you had a 19-year-old daughter who was in pain every day, what would you do to help?” Lynn asked. “You could be put on five different drugs three times a day every day, like I was. Or you can take pot, and now I’m on two drugs a day.”

A similar version of the bill was introduced by Boyle and Pocan in 2001. Former Rep. Gregg Underheim, R-Oshkosh, introduced the legislation again in 2003 and 2005; however, it failed to progress through the legislature on all three occasions.

“We want to make sure that this is the year Wisconsin gets it,” Boyle said. “Twelve states have now legalized medical marijuana, and I’m sick and tired of the state of Wisconsin dying a most regressive death in what used to be progressive tradition.”

Using marijuana for medical use is currently legal in Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Missouri, Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico, Alabama and Hawaii.

“Please, we have to make this legal,” Rickert said. “I beg all of you.”



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