Madison's Medical Marijuana Week is smokin'

March 22, 2004

Lindsay Mosher, City Reporter, The Badger-Herald, Madison, WI

The use of marijuana is illegal in the United States, but for victims of glaucoma, marijuana significantly aids in slowing the progression of vision loss.

Glaucoma victim Gary Storck began to lose his eyesight as a young child. His doctors prescribed several conventional medications that were unsuccessful in recovering his vision. In 1972, Storck smoked marijuana before going to see his doctors, and his eye pressure was no longer elevated.

Storck is a member of the Drug Police Task Force and Is My Medicine Legal Yet? (IMMLY), a nonprofit medical-marijuana advocacy group based in Mondovi, Wis., and Madison.

Storck and other users of prescribed marijuana went to the City Council meeting March 2 in hopes of setting aside a week to promote marijuana awareness in Madison. The council voted to recognize March 14-21 as Madison Marijuana Medical Awareness Week.

Ald. Judy Olson, District 6, and seven other alders backed the resolution, which obliged citizens of Madison to observe appropriate programs and activities.

'Marijuana had the potential to save my eyesight,' Storck said.

Marijuana also helped Storck's friend, IMMLY founder Jacki Rickert.

'I've tried just about everything in the [Physician's Desk Reference], according to my physician,' Rickert said. 'I was either allergic or it did not work.'

Storck explained last week's activities were important because they raised community awareness. He said most people do not advocate medical marijuana until they themselves are faced with a disease that can be lessened by marijuana.

'In the face of uncontrollable suffering, marijuana can be a godsend,' he said.

According to Storck, marijuana can help alter the progression of epilepsy, AIDS, glaucoma, cancer, multiple sclerosis and other diseases.

Storck explained that inhaling marijuana through smoke or vapor is best because it allows people to control the dosage.

'In conjunction with my other pills, I can take a lot less medicine,' Rickert said, referring to her marijuana use.

Storck said although the use of marijuana for medical reasons is legal, glaucoma sufferers are forced to buy the substance on the black market because pharmacies in Wisconsin do not distribute it.

A benefit was held Friday at the Cardinal Bar for IMMLY. The University of Wisconsin Green Progressive Alliance sponsored a film festival and discussion panel at Memorial Union Sunday.

'We are taking a step toward safe and legal access,' Storck said. 'I don't seek to break the law, but I have no other choice.'

Storck said he felt Madison Marijuana Medical Awareness Week went well.

'It showed Madison still has commitment to compassion,' he said.

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