Underheim proposes medical marijuana bill

October 06, 2005

Bob Hague, Wisconsin Radio Network

A proponent of medical marijuana says he has no interest in legalizing the drug for recreational use, but the legislature ought to debate the drug's merits as medicine. Oshkosh Republican, state Representative Gregg Underheim, said his proposed legislation would establish a medical necessity defense and immunity from arrest or prosecution, for users of medical marijuana. "That defense is activated after one's physician writes a recommendation that one would benefit from the use of medical marijuana, and after one obtains a card from the Department of Health and Family Services." Underheim said the bill was inspired by his own recovery from cancer and subsequent discussions with chemotherapy patients, and he has no interest in any broader lifting of criminal penalties for marijuana.

But Gary Storck with the advocacy group, Is My Medicine Legal Yet, said he doesn't see a conflict with the effort to decriminalize marijuana. "We need to first of all get the patients off the battlefield, and protect patients from arrest and jail," said Storck. "It would be a lot easier for patients if marijuana did not have the illegal status that it has today."

Underheim has introduced his bill for cosponsorship and said it will receive a public hearing before the Assembly Committee on Health, which he chairs.

AUDIO (Bob Hague reports :64 mp3)

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