Wis. Democrats introduce medical marijuana bill - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Wis. Democrats introduce medical marijuana bill

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MADISON, Wisconsin (WXOW) - Wisconsin Democrats are trying again to legalize marijuana for medical use.

Rep. Chris Taylor of Madison and Sen. Jon Erpenbach of Middleton held a news conference Thursday to announce the bill saying it can provide pain relief other medication doesn't.

Erpenbach told the crowd its time to make changes in Wisconsin to not put sick people in jail.

"Who are we as legislators to stand in the way of someone getting their medication?" Erpenbach said. "That helps ease their pain, that helps create an appetite, that helps keep food down, that helps keep them as healthy as possible during a very difficult process whether it be chemotherapy or what ever they may be struggling with."

Sen. Jennifer Shilling said she needs more information before she'll get behind the bill.

"The devil is always in the details," Shilling said. "But if this is prescribed by a physician, I certainly would be inclined to look at this as something that would be favorable to help people."

Rep. Lee Nerison thinks the bill is pretty broad.

"I'd like to check with other states that have already done it because you hear anecdotal comments that they're having a hard time distinguishing between the ones that actually need it and the ones that are using it for recreation," Nerison said.

21 states, plus the District of Columbia, have some sort of law allowing medicinal marijuana including Illinois. Governor Pat Quinn signed their law in August.

Legalizing medical marijuana, Dr. William Bucknam, Addictionologist/Psychologist, Gundersen Health System said, promotes public perception it's harmless.

"Marijuana has been demonstrated in scientific studies to not be safe," Dr. Bucknam said. "It is not harmless. It does create addiction.  It does create cognitive deficits that are worse the younger the person is that starts the use of the marijuana."

He said there is no need to introduce medical marijuana because it's not medically useful.

"Those substances that may be helpful are actually already available for prescription by a doctor for specific reasons," Dr. Bucknam said.

Bucknam suggests we wait on legalizing medical marijuana until it has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

A similar bill was introduced in 2010, when Democrats had complete control of Assembly and Senate.  It went nowhere after a public hearing.

Again, in 2011, the issue did not get a hearing under Republican control.

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