MADISON – Could medical marijuana be legalized in Wisconsin?
Proponents are trying once again to change the law.
Legislators who introduced a new bill Wednesday say it would allow seriously ill people access to marijuana to ease their pain.
“I’m certain at some point we will pass this in Wisconsin,” said State Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Madison).
Pocan and State Sen. Jon Erpenbach (D-Middleton) are introducing the latest proposal to legalize medical marijuana.
“We find there’s so much more support in this state than opposition and elected officials are simply behind public support on this,” said Pocan.
The measure would allow access to marijuana for patients with conditions like cancer, glaucoma, AIDS and HIV.
It also creates a maximum amount of marijuana a patient may receive.
Plus, the bill sets up a registry with the Department of Health Services.
“As far as a doctor goes, it should be a tool in their arsenal,” said Jay Selthofner, founder of Northern Wisconsin NORML. It’s a non-profit whose goal is to legalize marijuana in the state.
“As long as we can allow patients to use the medicine, allow caregivers to provide it in some way, shape or form, as long as we can take the patients off the battlefield on the war on drugs, I believe it’s a winning bill,” said Selthofner.
Medical marijuana opponents, including some drug addiction specialists, say there is no real advantage to having another drug available on the market.
“We have a lot of trouble with prescription drug abuse, we have a lot of trouble with alcohol, we have people who are addicted to marijuana and that seems to be as disruptive in people’s lives as any other drug,” said Thomas Fuchs, Director of LE Phillips Libertas Treatment Center in Chippewa Falls.
The bill was last attempted when Democrats controlled the Legislature in 2010, but it couldn’t find enough support then to pass. Now Republicans control both the Senate and the Assembly and it’s believed unlikely to win favor this time either.
“At this point I would be inclined to oppose it not that I think it would get to the floor, but I just think the idea has too many red flags surrounding it right now to be able to proceed,” said State Rep. Andre Jacque (R-Bellevue).
Pocan admits he doubts the bill will pass, but feels it’s important to keep the discussion going.
Right now 16 states, plus Washington D.C., have legalized medical marijuana. That includes Michigan.