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Wisconsin patients go West for medical marijuana approvals

"Gary Storck of Madison, Wis., has twice come to Oregon to obtain a medical marijuana card. He's one of about 600 people who live in other states who have Oregon cards for various reasons."
"Gary Storck of Madison, Wis., has twice come to Oregon to obtain a medical marijuana card. He's one of about 600 people who live in other states who have Oregon cards for various reasons."
Joe Koshollek/Oregonian

MADISON - Oregon's largest newspaper, the Oregonian, published an article on Feb. 20, 2012, that reported on the increasing number of out of state patients registering for Oregon's medical marijuana program, the only state medical cannabis program that accepts out-of-staters, "Hundreds of out-of-staters find comfort in obtaining Oregon medical marijuana cards."

I was interviewed for the article, which included a photo of me in my apartment posing next to a highway map of Oregon mounted on a door with a copy of my Oregon registration above.

The article included some quotes that really cut to the root of why I would travel to another state each year to gain that state's approval as a medical cannabis patient:

"Storck, the medical marijuana activist in Wisconsin, which doesn't have a medical marijuana program, carries his Oregon card with him wherever he goes even though it isn't likely to offer him much legal protection.

"To be able to have at least one state say, 'Yes, we accept that you are a patient,' means so much to me," he said. "It was worth the trip to be recognized as a patient. I have been fighting my whole entire adult life for my medicine. My own home state, where I was born, won't recognize that."

A map of Oregon hangs in his home, a reminder that his marijuana use is legal here.

"I am really thankful to Oregon," Storck said. "I am legal in every inch of that state and that is a beautiful thought for me." -- "Hundreds of out-of-staters find comfort in obtaining Oregon medical marijuana cards," Oregonian, Monday, Feb. 20, 2012.

The article notes that most out of staters in the OMMP are from the neighboring states of Washington, California and Idaho. Paul Stanford, of the Hemp & Cannabis Foundation where Jacki Rickert and I have gotten approval from Oregon physicians for the OMMP told me he thought that we were among the first patients to take advantage of the opportunity after it became available after litigation in June 2010.

According to the OMMP, as of this writing, there were "less than 50" Wisconsin currently registered in the program.

A 2004 Wisconsin cannabis case also documents the potential legal approaches of having medical cannabis credentials from one of the 16 states and Washington D.C. where medical cannabis is now legal.

In the 2004 case, State of Wisconsin vs. Cheryl Lam, the Baraboo Republic reported in Dec. 2004 how a California doctor's note affected cannabis possession charges filed in Sauk County:

"Medical marijuana is illegal in Wisconsin, but statutes allow possession where the patient has a valid prescription from a practitioner licensed to prescribe the drug. Calkins said the defendant in this case, Cheryl A. Lam, 53, of Sun Prairie, showed proof of her prescription in court and Judge James Evenson dismissed the case." -- "Marijuana Case Dismissed," Baraboo Republic, Dec 18, 2004.

Holders of Oregon medical cannabis cards also enjoy reciprocity with state medical cannabis programs in Arizona, Michigan, Maine and Rhode Island. A change in Montana's law removed the program's reciprocity clause as of this writing. This reciprocity theoretically offers protection for Wisconsin patients holding Oregon registrations who may be visiting our neighboring state of Michigan, which passed medical cannabis in Nov. 2008 by voter initiative.

Wisconsin's current medical cannabis proposal, AB475/SB371 the Jacki Rickert Medical marijuana Act (JRMMA), introduced last fall by Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Madison) and Sen. Jon Erpenbach (D-Waunakee), is based on Michigan's law and includes a provision for reciprocity with other medical cannabis states offering it.

The JRMMA is among dozens of bills introduced this session that are unlikely to proceed further due to a lack of action in committee. The legislature still has several weeks in which to take up the measures. The Madison chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) has information on how to contact your state lawmakers and lawmaker positions on their website www.MadisonNORML.org. The information is also available via the official website of the JRMMA, www.JRMMA.org.

Please link back to original article if republishing this in any form.

Patients Out of Time presents The Seventh National Clinical Conference on Cannabis Therapeutics April 26-28, 2012 at Loews Ventana Canyon Resort in Tucson, Arizona.

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