By Scott Gacek
October 25, 2013
MADISON, WI — Lawmakers in Wisconsin introduced a bill this week to legalize medical marijuana in the state, and the bill has significant support with 18 co-sponsors in both chambers of the legislature.

If passed, Senate Bill 363, introduced Tuesday, would allow registered patients to possess up to three ounces of medical marijuana. Patients or their caregivers would be allowed to grow up to twelve plants, or purchase their medicine from a state regulated, non-profit medical marijuana dispensary.

Caregivers would be allowed to treat up to five patients.

Under the proposal, medical marijuana dispensaries, or “compassion centers,” would be required to be located 500 feet or more from schools. All medical marijuana sold at the compassion centers would be required to be lab tested for mold, fungus, pesticides or other contaminants. The bill also authorizes medical marijuana dispensaries to provide delivery services to patients.

The proposed legislation would prevent patients from operating heavy macheinery or engaging in “any other conduct that endangers the health or well-being of another person” while medicated.

The bill also bans smoking marijuana on school buses, public transportation, at work, any public or private school, correctional facilities, public parks, beaches, recreation centers, or youth centers.

The bill was introduced by state Senators John Erpenbach (D), Lena Taylor (D), Timothy Cullen (D), Nikiya Harris (D) and John Lehman (D). The five senators are joined by thirteen co-sponsors in the Assembly.

Specific qualifying conditions for Wisconsin’s proposed medical marijuana program would include cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, Chron’s disease, hepatitis C, Alzheimer’s, amytrophic lateral sclerosis, nail patella syndrome, Ehlers−Danlos Syndrome, and post−traumatic stress disorder.

Ailments also includes any chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition that causes cachexia, severe pain, severe nausea, seizures, including those characteristic of epilepsy, or severe and persistent muscle spasms, including those characteristic of multiple sclerosis.”

The bill allows the Department of Health Services to add additional ailments as necessary.

The bill has been assigned to the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, chaired by Republican Senator Leah Vukmir, but has not yet been scheduled for a committee hearing. Bill sponsor Sen. Erpenbach is a member of the committee.

If passed, the bill would immediately begin protecting patients by allowing a medical necessity defense in court, with the medical marijuana program fully established within six months of the Governor’s signature.