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MADISON: Chris Rickert wrote a column about the Dane County MMJ Referendum that was printed in Sunday’s Wisconsin State Journal. In it, Chris Rickert urges a no vote. I’m quoted in the article and made clear to him while being interviewed that one argument I unilaterally reject is “there are other medicines available, so cannabis isn’t needed for most patients.” Thus, I was surprised to find that same argument presented as the number one reason to vote no in the published version.

I urge a “no” vote, not because marijuana doesn’t have medicinal effects, but because so much of the medical marijuana debate misses the point.

First, some disclosure. I am not related to Jacki Rickert, a Mondovi woman who suffers from Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and is the namesake of a medical marijuana bill that failed to pass the state Legislature earlier this year. I am, however, fairly well acquainted with marijuana, having spent a good chunk of my teens giggling and eating Cool Ranch Doritos through a cloud of smoke.

So what’s wrong with the medical marijuana debate?

For starters, doctors already have the ability to prescribe a range of medications to treat anxiety, nausea, glaucoma and other conditions medical marijuana users most often complain of. And they won’t impair your decision-making abilities, make you want to eat an entire gallon of butter pecan ice cream or ruin your lungs.

Further, the chemical in marijuana has long been legally available in a capsule called Marinol for the treatment of nausea. Another marijuana-derived drug, called Sativex, has been approved for treating neuropathic pain in Canada and Great Britain and is under review in this country by the Federal Drug Administration. — “Marijuana vote not about medical value,” Chris Rickert, Oct. 31, 2010, Wisconsin State Journal.

(Chris) Rickert’s mind must have been elsewhere when I told him about all the other cannabinoids in whole cannabis. Marinol is a synthetic form of THC, just one of the 60 plus cannabinoids found in whole cannabis. And since Marinol comes in capsules, it must be swallowed and absorbed to be effective. That may be very difficult for someone with nausea. And Marinol is not for everybody. As she relates in the video posted alongside this article, the aforementioned Jacki Rickert’s tongue and throat swelled up when she tried Marinol, something that has never happened with natural cannabis.

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MADISON: The Medical Marijuana Advisory Referendum Campaign Committee has put out a press release: Vote Yes for Compassion and Justice Nov. 2: Dane County Medical Marijuana Advisory Referendum

Read the full release below:

For immediate release: October 28, 2010

Medical Marijuana Advisory Referendum Campaign Committee

Vote Yes for Compassion and Justice Nov. 2: Dane County Medical Marijuana Advisory Referendum

MADISON: On Nov. 2, Dane County voters will be casting ballots in a historic first-ever Dane County Medical Marijuana Advisory Referendum. The question, which appears on the reverse side of county ballots, reads as follows: “Should the Wisconsin Legislature enact legislation allowing residents with debilitating medical conditions to acquire and possess marijuana for medical purposes if supported by their physician?”

The Medical Marijuana Advisory Referendum Campaign Committee strongly urges a Yes vote on this referendum. It’s time for Wisconsin patients to have access to medical cannabis alongside conventional medications and treatments. More than 20,000 studies and the experiences of hundreds of thousands of legal patients and their physicians in the 14 US states that currently allow this therapy document the safety and efficacy of cannabis as medicine.

Passage of the Dane county Medical Marijuana Referendum along with passage of it’s sister referendum in the City of River Falls will send a strong message to our incoming governor and state legislature that passage of the Jacki Rickert Medical Marijuana Act (JRMMA) must be a leading bipartisan priority when they take office in January, not a political football or an afterthought.

Jacki Rickert had this to say about the referendum, “Patients need their medicine! Everyone deserves a life with dignity. This is the right thing to do.”

Voting yes is the right thing to do and a good way to let state lawmakers know there is nothing to fear from passing legislation protecting Wisconsin veterans, seniors, our sick, disabled and dying from arrest and jail for using the medicine they, their families and their physicians find works best.

The Medical Marijuana Advisory Referendum Campaign Committee will be holding a Victory Party on Nov. 2 beginning at 7pm, with results expected beginning after 8:30pm at the Cardinal Bar, 418 E Wilson St. in downtown Madison, and will be available for comment at that time and location. For more information contact Gary Storck, Dane County Medical Marijuana Advisory Referendum Campaign Committee, 608-241-8922 or at gstorck@immly.org.

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MADISON: Rick Richard, the Republican nominee for the State Senate seat currently held by Sen. Judy Robson (D-Beloit), who is retiring, announced his “unequivocal” support for state medical marijuana legislation in a Facebook post today. Richards also promised to cosponsor legislation if elected. In comparison, his opponent Tim Cullen, a cancer survivor who is attempting to return to politics after serving as Democratic majority leader over 25 years ago, offered only tepid support in private discussions, according to the page he would ‘probably’ vote for a bill but wasn’t sure ‘it was the answer’.

Here is Rick Richard’s entire post

It’s past time for Wisconsin to regulate medical marijuana and tax it. I will co-sponsor a medical marijuana bill and vote yes, unequivocally. Personally, I don’t use it, but I do have a personal story. My mother suffers from neuropathy,… and requires big pharma drugs for her chronic pain. Strong evidence suggests that medical marijuana would alleviate her pain without the side effects she currently has from the current synthetic drugs. She is the type that won’t go 1 mph over the speed limit breaking the law, so she certainly won’t try medical marijuana for her pain while it’s illegal. It surprises me that anyone that watched the JRMMA testimony at the capitol would not support the legislation. Chronically and terminally ill patients testified medical marijuana would be the single prescribed medication for pain alleviation without the side effects of big pharma drugs. Healthcare professionals also testified in favor. 14 states now have some type of medical marijuana laws. The U.S. now has model legislation in place, it’s time in Wisconsin to help those in chronic pain, the terminally ill. Recent evidence also shows medical marijuana is the best treatment for returning Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans suffering from wide ranging issues as a result of PTSD. — Rick Richard, 10/12.10 facebook post.

It’s great to see any candidate take the time to look into this issue instead of offering vague statements and weak assurances. With the unfortunate trend toward GOP monolithicism against medical cannabis in the WI State Legislature over the last several sessions, it is particularly refreshing to hear the issue discussed as it should be, free of partisan politics, by a Republican. Richard’s statement shows he has put real thought into his position and understands that compassion is the number one reason to allow patients legal access. Richard also took the time to watch the Dec. 15 Wisconsin combined medical marijuana committee hearing archived on Wisconsin Eye.

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MADISON: On Sept. 16, I published the first article in the series, “Profile in Cowardice” on the actions of WI State Assembly Rep. Steve Kestell (R-Elkhart Lake). This time we’ll be taking another look at Rep. Keith Ripp (R-Lodi) who represents Wisconsin’s 47th Assembly district. The 47th sits in northern Dane County and southern Columbia County.

Ripp first won election to the seat, long represented by GOP moderate Eugene Hahn, a supporter of industrial hemp and medical cannabis, by a 30-vote margin in a recount in 2008. Ripp is again facing Trish O’Neil, the opponent he defeated in the 2008 recount. Ripp’s Assembly bio notes he is a farmer and small business owner and will turn 49 this November. It does not list any military service.

During the 2009-2010 session, a former US Marine Sergeant who had served three tours in Iraq, Erin Silbaugh, repeatedly contacted Ripp. Silbaugh, suffering from severe PTSD, asked Ripp to support AB554/SB368 the Jacki Rickert Medical Marijuana Act (JRMMA). The JRMMA specifically lists PTSD as a qualifying condition. Only the state of New Mexico currently explicitly includes PTSD as a qualifying condition. Had the JRMMA passed, Wisconsin would have been a leader in making medical cannabis therapy available to those suffering post traumatic stress.

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