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Forty-eight Wisconsin medical marijuana patients this year got their Oregon medicinal cannabis authorizations at the annual Great Midwest Marijuana Harvest Fest. "But wait," you may be thinking. "They live in Wisconsin, not Oregon." That's entirely true -- but according to those in the know, having an out-of-state medical marijuana authorization gives these patients some legal cover should the police come calling.
The authorizations were issued by THCF Medical Clinics at the Harvest Fest as part of something called The Ben Masel Project. Masel was a famous Yippie activist based in Madison who started the Great Midwest Marijuana Harvest Fest; he died suddenly from cancer three and a half years ago. "The Oregon permit has saved several people in Wisconsin from arrest," THCF founder Paul Stanford told Hemp News. The fact that Oregon issues permits to out-of-state patients has been helpful to those in Wisconsin and other non-MMJ states, according to Stanford. "This weekend, we helped 48 patients in Wisconsin get Oregon medical marijuana permits, bringing in almost $10,000 in state fees for the Oregon Health Authority," Stanford told us. "Really, the Wisconsin Legislature should act to help its sick and dying patients, and keep those funds in Wisconsin."
Stanford said speaking at the Great Midwest Marijuana Harvest Fest, the 44th annual event, "is an old tradition" for him. "I first spoke here in Madison 25 years ago, in 1989, and I came back and spoke again in 1990 and many years since," he told us. According to Stanford, an old friend of Ben Masel's, the Great Midwest Marijuana Harvest Fest was the first and biggest pro-cannabis event in the United States in the late 1980s and early 1990s, attracting 15,000 participants. The Harvest Fest this year encountered difficulties in getting event insurance and a permit, according to organizer Dennis Brennan.
"We got a phone call from the chief of the Madison Police Department," Brennan told Hemp News. "He said he wanted the rally and the march to go on.
"He offered a police escort for our parade of 1,500 to 2,000 people smoking marijuana in public," Brennan said. "It was two solid blocks of people. The police department came to me, reached out, and I think that is really admirable."
"Ben Masel was always working on how to get a good medical marijuana argument," Brennan told us. "When Oregon decided to let out-of-staters have a card, Ben Masel Jacki Rickert and Gary Storck were among the first out-of-staters to get it."
"We don't recommend anyone break the law, but if you have your Oregon card, you are standing up for your rights," Brennan said. "More than $9,000 in fees left the state of Wisconsin -- this, to me, is a good Ben Masel protest."
"We're just trying to show that, under our constitution, we have a valid argument here for possession of marijuana with a doctor's orders," Brennan said. "We're just trying to get people to express their rights, and the more cards we have without a referendum, the stronger our position when a referendum happens."
Last year, nine Wisconsin residents signed up for the Oregon MMJ cards; this year, that number grew to 48.
"It was great to see so many new patients filing the paperwork to get their Oregon cards," said activist Gary Storck, who back in 2010 was among the first Wisconsin residents to get an Oregon authorization. "The recent incident in Baraboo with the Kinsleys that I was a party to shows that the protection is real."
"Cold weather caused me to miss major portions of the festival this year, but I was right next to Jacki [Rickert] to see her receive the Defender of Liberty award," Storck told us. "The focus on female activists was a nice touch.
"For the first time, we had two sitting state assembly representatives, Melissa Sargent [legalization] and Chris Taylor [medical marijuana], speaking about cannabis law reform," Storck said. "Wisconsin pot activism is really maturing and broadening out over the state."