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MADISON: On a night when it seemed little could go right for progressive candidates and incumbents, the Dane County Medical Marijuana Advisory Referendum exceeded expectations, garnering a final total of 159,408 votes – 75.49% of the total cast. In River Falls, where Alder Bob Hughes worked to get the city’s MMJ Advisory Referendum rolling, the final was Yes by over 68%.

As expected, vote totals for the referendum surpassed those of candidates running on the same ballot. It also did very well in traditional Republican-leaning wards. For example, in the six Dane County wards of current State Senate Minority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Beaver Dam), the Senator was outpolled in each, demonstrating that medical cannabis support transcends partisan politics.

0001 T ALBION WDS 1-2                        527/340
0008 T CHRISTIANA WDS 1-2                311/270
0012 T DEERFIELD WDS 1-2                 452/345
0043 V CAMBRIDGE WDS 2-3                 379/288
0047 V DEERFIELD WDS 1-4                 626/413
0065 V ROCKDALE WD 1                      66/51

What do these victories mean in light of the reshuffling of the Wisconsin governmental deck? Come January, Wisconsin will have a Republican governor in Scott Walker, who has so far been hostile to medical marijuana. Attorney General JB Van Hollen is returning for another term. Van Hollen sent his deputy to oppose the JRMMA at its hearing. Control of both houses of the State Legislature has shifted to the GOP, and arch-medical marijuana opponent Leah Vukmir succeeded in toppling State Sen. Jim Sullivan (D-Wauwatosa) and moving up to the State Senate, where she will likely chair a Health Committee. Will the medical marijuana victories even be noticed in the GOP landslide? Will this mean Wisconsin’s medical marijuana brain drain becomes a brain hemorrhage?

We’ll be taking a deeper look tomorrow….

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MADISON: The stunning landslide victory of the Dane County Medical Marijuana Referendum, which received 159,408 votes –a 75.49% margin –, stands in sharp contrast to the Republican landslide that swept the GOP into control of the governor’s office and both houses of the legislature. But while opinions are mixed as too what effect the referendum’s popularity will have on future efforts, the shift pushes advocates into unfamiliar territory.

Republicans needed just two seats to gain the state senate majority, but ended up winning four, switching control from 18-15 for Democrats to a 19-14 majority. Assembly, Republicans will have at least a 59-38 margin with one race still out and another won by an independent who will likely caucus with the GOP. Among those losing their seats were the top Democratic leaders, Assembly Speaker Mike Sheridan of Janesville and Senate Majority Leader Russ Decker of Wausau.

While the GOP picked up four senate seats, two pro-medical cannabis Republicans, Ed Thompson and Rick Richard, whose ‘unequivocal’ support was the subject of a prior article, both lost. This means Sen. Kathleen Vinehout (D-Alma), will return for a second term of indifference to medical cannabis and her constituent Jacki Rickert. Former Senate Democratic Senate Majority Leader Tim Cullen beat Richard in the battle for Judy Robson’s Beloit-area seat. Former State Rep. Terry Moulton, a medical cannabis opponent, defeated Sen. Pat Kreitlow (D-Eau Claire) in another major upset.

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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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