Medical Marijuana California
Traditional canning jars hold varieties of marijuana in a cabinet at the La Brea Collective medical marijuana dispensary in Los Angeles.

When Sen. Jon Erpenbach, D-Middleton, was first elected to the state Legislature in 1998, Gary Storck, a routine medicinal marijuana user and advocate for its legalization, was Erpenbach’s first constituent visit.

Erpenbach calls Storck, the co-founder of Is My Medicine Legal Yet?, the most persistent constituent in Wisconsin. He has been lobbying Erpenbach and others to legalize a drug he has been using for 41 years to treat his glaucoma.

“Medical cannabis is all but mainstream now,” said Storck, 58, at a Capitol press conference Thursday.

Erpenbach and Rep. Chris Taylor, D-Madison, are the co-sponsors of a bill known as the Jacki Rickert bill which would legalize medical marijuana. With a Republican-controlled legislature, there is serious question whether the bill will gain any support.

Rickert, in a wheelchair and speaking slowly and softly, said she's angry that veterans come back from fighting wars only to fight another war to get medicine that would help them cope with the after-effects of combat.

"What is (getting) high?" she asked. "Living or gaining weight?"

Erpenbach said opponents cite concerns that legalizing marijuana will be a slippery slope for patients and others to use the drug for recreational purposes.

“I’ve always found (that line of thinking) disrespectful,” Erpenbach said. “I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to actually read the bill.”

Under the measure, medicinal marijuana could be prescribed to patients with cancer, glaucoma, AIDS-HIV, post traumatic stress disorder, seizures, severe pain and nausea, and muscle spasms.

Taylor said the bill would allow patients to grow up to 10 marijuana plants and have up to 3 ounces in their possession. Patients who choose not to grow their own would be able to purchase medicinal marijuana with a doctor’s prescription at state-regulated, non-profit “compassionate care centers.”

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