Cancer Changes Lawmaker's Mind on Drug

Cancer Changes Lawmaker's Mind on Drug
Posted by CN Staff on January 01, 2004 at 21:52:38 PT
By Steven Walters 
Source: Journal Sentinel 
Madison -- After doctors removed his cancerous prostate, Gregg Underheim was frozen by uncertainty: Had the cancer spread? Would he need chemotherapy and, if so, would the treatment itself make him miserably ill?Underheim, chairman of the Assembly's Health Committee and a Republican, began thinking of others who had waged brave and painful battles with cancer. Some, like his father, had lost the fight.
He also engaged in an internal debate about whether those suffering from cancer should be allowed to use marijuana for medicinal purposes, to cope with the pain of the cancer and the nausea often caused by the treatment.That consideration alone was a major shift for a legislator who in the late 1990s was quoted in High Times magazine opposing the legalization of marijuana.In the end, he decided to buck his party's leadership and introduce a bill that would allow doctors to prescribe marijuana for medical reasons."Certainly, having gone through what I went through makes you think about things differently. That affected my decision on this," said Underheim, of Oshkosh."I bumped into a couple of people - going through my episode - of people who had chemo. We sort of talked about things, and how violently ill people got, how miserable life was for a period of time." His father, then him His own father had died of colon cancer in 1986, although he had fought it with a strict diet and alternative medicines.Years later, Underheim, 53, himself showed signs of cancer. He tried to ward off the disease by eating gardens of vegetables, losing weight and drinking gallons of green tea.Eventually, however, biopsies confirmed doctors' suspicions and he underwent surgery in June 2002. He then waited several agonizing days for test results, which provided good news.The cancer had not spread."That was a day of great relief, but you think about things like that while you're waiting to hear what the outcome was," he said. "You're wondering about chemotherapy, that kind of stuff."Those months of emotional churning and internal debate prompted him to change his mind about the medicinal value of marijuana."If you do the chemo, for a period of time you really feel miserable," he said. "Then, just as you're getting better, it's time to do another chemo. I've talked to a couple of doctors who say it's worthy, certainly, of looking at." Stiff opposition Underheim knows his bill faces tough sledding, particularly among his fellow Republicans, who control the Legislature and wish the measure had again been floated by a Democrat.Assembly Speaker John Gard (R-Peshtigo) said Underheim's bill has "got a big mountain to climb - I think he understands that the odds are stacked against him."Told that Underheim plans a public hearing on his bill this year, Gard said, "It's a free country."Underheim knows the election-year political reality, so he has a fallback position he could accept: a compromise that would result in thorough research of the medicinal value of marijuana.But he said that it could cost up to $2 million for an institution like the University of Wisconsin Hospital & Clinics to do such a study - money state government doesn't now have. Hospital officials declined to comment on the issue, saying they had not seen a final copy of Underheim's bill.But Paul Wertsch, president of the Wisconsin Medical Society, said his organization supports research on the potential medical use of marijuana - if those who participate don't have to smoke it.The medical society "supports research into whether smoked marijuana may be therapeutic for certain patients, but marijuana should not be generally used until scientific evidence is available regarding its safety and efficacy," Wertsch said."Research should be directed toward developing a smoke-free, inhaled delivery system for marijuana to cut the health risks related to the combustion and inhalation of the drug."Public open-minded Underheim said he doesn't believe the average citizen would object to his bill."I think the public is much more comfortable with this than policy-makers are right now," he said.Having seen his father take alternative medicines, and using a strict diet himself to combat cancer, Underheim is willing to endure any soft-on-drugs political flak."Medical marijuana falls into that category of stuff that's 'alternative' in its approach right now," he said.No, Underheim said, he didn't smoke marijuana after his prostate surgery. And he won't say whether he ever has."This really isn't about my past personal habits," he said. "This is really about a public policy question . . . . I was young so, so long ago.Underheim conceded that there are unresolved issues associated with his bill - particularly the question of how to distribute marijuana to the critically ill."If you're going to do this - if you're going to legalize - you've got to make sure that the opportunities for abuse, and recreational use, are not enhanced by people using it for medical purposes," he said.His bill specifies "if you have (marijuana) legally, you cannot provide it to anyone else - even someone with a medical problem," he said."We specify also that, if you have a prescription and you provide, you lose the prescription. You are no longer able to have the drug provided to you. We're trying to be very, very serious about making certain that the people don't misuse (marijuana), and this is truly a medical question."Even the terms used in the public debate over his bill are important, he said. That's why when quizzed about the measure while on a UW-Oshkosh student radio program, he objected to the term "munchies.""If you're serious about this bill, you can't use the language of the drug culture to talk about this in medical terms," he said. "That's the fastest way to undermine serious interest in it as a medical question."Note: Illness leads Underheim to introduce bill for use of medical marijuana.Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (WI)Author: Steven Walters Published: January 1, 2004Copyright: 2004 Milwaukee Journal SentinelContact: jsedit onwis.comWebsite: Articles & Web Sites:Is My Medicine Legal Yet? Marijuana Information Links Should Lead In Marijuana Research Introduce Medical-Marijuana Bill 
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Comment #16 posted by BUDSNAXZ on January 03, 2004 at 09:43:16 PT
The GCW and all
I've been reading some interesting things on cancer and how the FDA and the pharmaceutical companies have been withholding a cure (Vitiman B17)from us for years. I think its 's worth reading about.
Here's a couple of links I pulled off Google.I'm not sure how to post a second link so here it is: everyone, have a happy and safe new year.
Peace to all
History of cancer cures
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Comment #15 posted by breeze on January 02, 2004 at 13:18:33 PT
Thanks to all of you who understand!
Thank you for your support, thank you for understanding.
If I had to do it all over again, I would have hired an attorney- told my parents what was going on, even taken it to court, but I was just a kid at the time. Since that day, I have sworn an oath to my dying breath that I would fight for Marijuana and against those that purport their ideals on what I can do with my body. Again, thank you all for making me feel welcome among you. Hope you all have a safe and happy year ahead. -Breeze
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Comment #14 posted by freedom fighter on January 02, 2004 at 12:17:48 PT
I stand by you Breeze!
As a former POW of some stupid drugs, I know exactly how you feel. I just found out that my Dad got cancer and is going through the chemo. I do'nt think I am asking too much when I say leave my Dad alone so he can live his life the way he wants to peacefully. So, I stand by you Breeze! They charged me with growing one plant because I said No when they asked me my permission to turn my boy into a snitch. He was 16 yrs old at that time. They had nothing on my boy. When they did this, they only have shown how truly desperate they are with the Drug War!Let's keep on pushing them!ff
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Comment #13 posted by The GCW on January 02, 2004 at 09:49:23 PT
gamma linolenic acid
The rates of cancer are going up.App. 6 years ago, 1 out of 4 Americans had cancer.Today it is 1 out of 3.The higher this number is the more people will desire to relieve some suffering...And then keep in mind that is seems the more the corp. world fights cannabis the higher the rates of cancer grows... (jumble)So We have the highest cancer rates.Thank You government; I won't let them say You are not doing anything.And then remember that gamma linolenic acid in mothers milk and hemp seed oil is rare and helps strengthen the immune system. GLA is part of hemp / cannabis / kaneh bosm and is what the Fed DEA wants to exterminate.The more ignoids are allowed to exterminate GLA in the diets of not just Us but also every living creature... the more the higher rates of cancer will be seen.PUt gamma-linolinic-acid through Your google...
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Comment #12 posted by BigDawg on January 02, 2004 at 09:37:05 PT
Nobody here hates you. A young victim in this war on drugs connot be expected to understand the situation and ramifications.You learned the hard way... and are helping others avoid the pitfalls.Much respect.
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Comment #11 posted by FoM on January 02, 2004 at 09:34:57 PT
Thank you for telling us what you did. I'm really sorry. Those words just don't seem like enough to me sometimes but I mean them.
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Comment #10 posted by breeze on January 02, 2004 at 09:21:11 PT
When will these guys wake up?
Myself, and my parents had cancer. I had to watch my mom basically shrivel away, she had chemo almost daily for months. I couldn't do anything to help her, due to the damn law, though I did mention it. I had no idea where to purchase any cannabis, but was willing to try.
The bottom line was simple, it was illegal to even try to buy the herb. And with that potential for being arrested, She would never do anything illegal, period.
 It suprises me that more Christians don't stand up for others, as my mom was a very spiritual person and very involved in her church. She was not neccesarily a republican, but she believed in moral values. She was strong in her faith till the end, but that faith did not end her suffering.
When I read about this guy, it makes me sick all over again. Where was he, ten years ago, when the issue would have been helpful to my parents and myself? Where was he while I held my Mothers hand in that hospital? Where was he while she grew weak and thin, forcing herself to drink that stuff in a can so she could at least get some form of nurishment? She basically withered away, and she wasn't a large woman to begin with.
But with this man,I see his cowardice even now, a politician is still a politician- he just wants another vote. He is only "nudged" toward the idea of medical marijuana. For my mother, it would have taken more than that to even come close to her using this miracle herb.
It would have had to been a remedy that she would not have to worry about going through any governmental agency to use. It would have had to have been as common to buy the herb as it is asprin. She did not have the strength to go through any courts, any governmental investigators to be sure she wasn't selling it to others, etc.
We live in a society where its okay for others to suffer, but when it happens to them, whoa buddy- its time for consideration! This nation is failing because there is no longer a sense of unity amoung the citizens. Everyone is divided, and that goes against- United we stand.
I feel sorry for anyone who has cancer, I have been there.
But as far as this politician, I have reservations that he will do ALL he can to stop this maddness. 
They simply don't see that it goes beyound medical marijuana. Just because a person is proven eligible for medical marijuana, it doesn't mean that people aren't going to be prudish about the person using it. My mother would have rather face the pain than have the women and men at her church make remarks or have their fun at her expense for using something that society views as a joke, she simply would not have done it. But if it were legal, and widely available, it would have been a different story. Embracing Medical Cannabis is not an answer, it has to be ALL Cannabis, not just medical marijuana. While I am strong enough to not care what others think, she was not. And this is where my government has failed me, my MOMMA, and hundreds of thousands of others.
This is why I have vowed to "fight the good fight," as John the Apostle said- I believe. I simply will not rest until God's medicine is available to everyone. If someone is using it for recreational use, it is still medicine- for it has been proven to help folks with depression, and I know that everyone has depression from time to time, some even daily. Zoloft costs over $100.00 for a month supply, marijuana is even more, but it does make a person feel better- but the reason it costs more is simple, it is illegal. If it were legal, it would be almost free. I suppose if someone wants help, they have to pay huge amounts of money for something that only helps a little if at all. There are other obvious reasons for legalization of ALL cannabis, but few ever see it. I had that oppurtunity. I was caught with seeds in my car, told to reveal my dealer or I would go to jail. I refused to send my friends to jail, so I was told that I either tell the cops who my dealer was, or find someone dealing cocaine and turn them into the cops instead. I never used cocaine, so I opted for that instead. I am not proud of the fact, but this was 15 years ago. Even though the operation was a total failure, no one got busted, I have since seen the police for what they are. They were not there when the guy stuck his gun in my ribs, they weren't there while I was patted down for a wire, with seven huge dudes standing in a circle around me,even though I was. Angels were on my side! 
The cops only wanted a dealer, for them, money and forfeiture of property- as good as money in the bank. It was obvious they weren't interested in making the community safer. And all I had was seed to get into that life threatening situation. To make my point, they still wanted to bust some one for dealing- it was at this point I said, "Look.All I had was seeds for a plant. You are telling me that though I didn't get this guys arrested, had my life threatened,was almost caught wearing a wire, you still want me to go and bust someone else for a simple little plant? No fricking way- I was very in their face on this one, "I AM NOT getting anyone in trouble for selling cannabis- NOT GONNA DO IT!"
I was just a kid, if I had known then what I know now, I would have definetly just gotten a lawyer- but lawyers are expensive, and I was almost broke. I lost my job over this, and several good friends. I lost my self respect, and many nights of sleep. I wound up having to pay the cops over $600 for seeds that were in my car, simply because I did not know my rights to deny a search of my vehicle, but this did not matter, they said that anything they found in my car would carry double penalty for making them retrieve a warrant. 
Some of you may hate me now, but don't. I now study law- not so I can become a lawyer, but so I can help others in this situation. I write letters, and I do what I can.
I saw how dangerous the illegality of a drug makes society, and it should now be obvious to you who have doubt.I do not advocate anything illegal, but I almost lost my life due to some greedy thugs and some paranoid drug dealers (incidently, I was told later by the cops that had I basically broke the wire before they had a chance to hear me talking). I understand that people need to make money the quickest way they can, and so I don't blame the dealers for being the way they are. I just want everyone to be forwarned, that the law is against marijuana for reasons that go much deeper than the eye can view. Just because a man wears a badge, it doesn't mean that man has scruples or a desire to protect and serve. A badge doesn't mean this person is a decent human being who understands the meaning of protection. Who did these guys protect me from? In fact, they placed my life in danger by their tactics!
It was something I went through, and learned from it. I can't help but wonder how many other young people have had their lives put in danger, and how many have lost their lives due to this type of activity, and I suspect many, because these cops had the tools to do so, and were more than eager to do so.
I was definetly in more danger because of what the cops did to me than the herb ever did.
I am coming forward with this now, after much internal debate, because I was worried what others would think of me. I think its better to let others know, than hide behind fear of what others think.
And all because of a simple little pack of discarded seeds.
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Comment #9 posted by FoM on January 02, 2004 at 09:12:50 PT
What an interesting time we live in. When the news is slow like it is during the holiday season I wonder where we are going and what will happen in the future. As the new year gets in gear and writers are back to work and activists are doing their things we will see some remarkable events this year I believe. I believe in hope!Peace, FoM!
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Comment #8 posted by Marc Paquette on January 02, 2004 at 08:43:32 PT:
Hey FoM!
Thanks..and same to you and your loved ones :o)Peace,Marc
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Comment #7 posted by FoM on January 02, 2004 at 08:36:51 PT
Hi Marc
I wanted to say Happy New Year to you! I'm still full of hope and expect good things for 2004!
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Comment #6 posted by Marc Paquette on January 02, 2004 at 07:46:52 PT:
It's just too bad that it has to take that!
Hi my Friends;Happy New Year by the way from me and . It's just too bad that it takes these kinds of drastic situations to important people within the political systems (daughters and sons also), TV and Movie Stars, and ALL other very rich, powerful and important members in Society, in order to make important and positive changes within marijuana laws. They are starting to be victims of their own remedy. Now they realize that marijuana is a good medicine and of course they will legalize it with time..and they will also probably control it's market and taxes too..more money to make for the governments. They are doing it for their own sakes too..of course..not because of other citizens dying with Aids, cancer, MS, Hepatitis C or other severe and deadly illnesses.
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Comment #5 posted by John Tyler on January 02, 2004 at 06:35:37 PT
another cancer patient conversion
This guy is still pretty ignorant, but he is being forced to change his thinking due to a personal health crisis. Funny how that happens isn't it? Others can suffer and thats OK, but when it's his turn, he is ready to try medical cannabis. Now he is an advocate sort of and that's good. (Like Paul's conversion on the road to Damascus.) First off I would recommed that he call it medical cannabis (that was it's original name) not marijuana. Marijuana is the Spanish name. The Prohibitionist used that term to confuse the public and make it sound foreign and negative. GW Pharma has inhalers ready for market. And lastly, what is this big fear about recreational use? This guy still has a lot to learn.  I hope his Republican pals will listen to him. Maybe they will after they get cancer.
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Comment #4 posted by OverwhelmSam on January 02, 2004 at 05:47:28 PT:
With all of the misery surrounding the prohibition of drugs in general, everything seems to be coming to a head.
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Comment #3 posted by kaptinemo on January 02, 2004 at 05:21:42 PT:
It always happens like this
Until antis personally face the awful prospects of cancer, surgery and chemo, they believe in their (shrivelled, blackened, twisted) heart of hearts that MMJ is not medicine. And that others shouldn't have it.I've cared for an elderly woman dying of mesothlioma that had been caused by her swallowing asbestos as a child and it caused a tumor to form on her stomach. The surgery was radical, removing a lot of her insides. At 79, it almost killed her. Then came the chemo. To call it torture is to engage in understatement. It was so bad, she stopped the treatment and chose to allow it to kill her rather than continue. I had no access to MMJ, but had broached the subject with her. But I also was quite frank about what would happen if the swine came knocking, and caught her with it. She was so terrified of not being able to give her home to her daughter after her death due to it being stolen by the swine via forfeiture, she chose to stay with the heavy narcotics they gave her. Which didn't help the nausea. Neither did the supposed anti-emetic Kytril she was sold for 50 dollars a pill; she wound up retching, anyways.Antis: I mean this in all sincerity. I sincerely hope you have a taste of the suffering you've visited upon the innocents in your damnable faux moral crusade. I hope you have to look into the eyes of someone who is suffering so horribly and feel as helpless as I felt. I hope that you hear thsoe dreaded words - "You have cancer" - said to a loved one. Or yourself. And start hearing every tick of a clock as a reminder of how little time they or you have left.Dante said there were 9 Circles in Hell. There should be a 10th...just for you!
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Comment #2 posted by mayan on January 02, 2004 at 04:48:30 PT
Wis. Rep. Supports Medical Marijuana Bill:'s more on the B.C. legislature raids...Unseal legislature search warrants: media lawyers
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Comment #1 posted by mayan on January 01, 2004 at 23:43:22 PT
Here's an article about Willie's new song that he'll be playing at a benefit concert for Dennis Kucinich...New Willie Nelson Song Condemns War in Iraq: here's more Rush...Rush Limbaugh should stop whining: way out is the way in...Nine hundred and Eleven Missing Pieces:
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