On Monday, November 16 2009, the American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin joined Representative Mark Pocan, Senator Jon Erpenbach, patients and advocates in a press conference for the Jacki Rickert Medical Marijuana Act (AB 554 and SB 368), a popular and common sense measure to reform laws on the medical use of marijuana.
Medical marijuana users should not be treated like criminals. But without law reform, Wisconsin will continue to confuse criminal behavior with medical necessity – a practice that subjects people seeking relief from severe illnesses to searches, fines and imprisonment. Eleven states have legalized marijuana for medical purposes and more have passed legislation on the freedom of scientific research to be done on its health benefits. The War on Drugs should not be a war on sick people.
Reforming Wisconsin law on medical marijuana is the right thing to do for patients in our home state. States have a right to determine what is legal and illegal under state law. While we need progress for drug reform nationally, the need is urgent for Wisconsinites who face chronic pain and suffering from their illnesses. Wisconsin cannot wait for Congress to settle on health care reform while an affordable and natural option can be made available to seriously ill patients to relieve chronic pain, intractable nausea and the side effects of chemotherapy, radiation, and HIV/AIDS medications.
Wisconsin, like the rest of the country, needs to address all the ways that drug laws are discriminatory, irrational and are the root of unprecedented levels of incarceration. Legalizing marijuana for medical use would be a step in the right direction for Wisconsin.
Find out more about the work of the national ACLU on drug law reform at http://www.aclu.org/drug-law-reform.