Marijuana Fest Ignites Fight for Legalization 

Marijuana Fest Ignites Fight for Legalization 
Posted by CN Staff on October 09, 2006 at 14:08:14 PT
By Ellen Williams-Masson
Source: Capital Times
Wisconsin -- The skies were clear but a haze hung over hundreds of marijuana activists as they paraded up State Street to the Capitol for the 36th Annual Great Midwest Marijuana Harvest Festival.Some who marched advocated marijuana for medicinal purposes, while others championed hemp as an answer to the state's agricultural woes. And more than a few undoubtedly toked up for the sheer pleasure of smoking a doobie on a sunny afternoon on State Street.
"The sky didn't fall, nothing happened, nobody got hurt, and we went all the way down the road in full public view and nothing went wrong," activist Jim Miller from New Jersey said."It makes no sense that if this is the way it works, why are people going to jail for doing that, when nothing happened?"Miller is part of the "Commando Squad" that has fought for the legalization of medical marijuana and carries on the battle in memory of his wife, Cheryl.Cheryl had lobbied for medicinal marijuana to ease her pain from multiple sclerosis before her death in 2003, and Miller played a tape of her agonized screams during physical therapy treatments without benefit of the drug.Marijuana proponents have been fighting to legalize cannabis for decades since its criminalization in 1937, and local activist and Harvest Festival organizer Ben Masel believes they are slowly making headway."We've gotten a lot better, at least at the political level, at stopping new bad legislation," Masel said. "A lot of progress is happening on hemp agriculture."Masel lost the U.S. Senate Democratic primary to incumbent Herb Kohl last month but secured more than 51,000 votes, more than half of which he attributes to marijuana supporters.Masel also lost a Republican primary to Tommy Thompson in the 1990 governor's race when he ran on a platform advocating the use of hemp in agriculture.Gary Storck, cofounder of the Madison branch of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), lamented the death of the medical marijuana bill during the past congressional session and pointed to the Capitol building behind him when he spoke at the rally."The people in this building are responsible for that bill dying in committee," he said. "It's time to turn these mothers out. We need you to vote, and we need to get your friends to vote."Storck, Miller and other activists will be traveling throughout the state before the Nov. 7 election in an attempt to get candidates' positions on record regarding the legalization of cannabis for medicinal purposes.Storck cited a 2002 poll conducted by his activist group "Is my medicine legal yet?" (IMMLY) that reported over 80 percent of Wisconsin residents support legalized medical marijuana."No candidate should be able to run for office and get elected without stating their position on medical marijuana," Storck said. "Why won't they just do the people's will?"Joann Price of Verona suffers from spinal muscular atrophy and also questioned why her medicine of choice isn't legal."I don't see why something that is a gift from God, a herb, made in the ground. . .can't be legalized," Price said from a wheelchair. "You've never heard of anybody getting into a fist fight or beating their spouse after they smoked a joint."Proponents like Price say cannabis provides pain relief and alleviates a host of other medical conditions without the harmful side effects or high costs of many prescription drugs.The Food and Drug Administration issued a statement in April 2006 that the FDA, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Office of National Drug Control Policy "do not support the use of smoked marijuana for medical purposes" because of a lack of sound scientific studies required for the FDA drug approval process.Plenty of patients continue to self-medicate with marijuana, however, often as an alternative to prescription drugs. Cassius, a 23-year-old veteran who served in the Airborne Rangers, returned home from Baghdad with bottled up rage and a hand-rolled remedy to ease the pain."I smoke weed, and I'm going to die smoking weed," he said, declining to give his last name. "If I want to smoke marijuana, I can be judged, but I can fight and die for the country, and see my battle buddies blown up on land mines in Fallujah."Cassius, a Gary, Indiana native, says he never used drugs before joining the military but now smokes pot on a daily basis to "mellow out" since he came home to a life of unemployment and disillusionment."A lot of rich guys, Caucasians, like to pull out their scotch with two ice cubes," he said. "War gives you a gift, because when you come back, you look at things differently." Source: Capital Times, The (WI)Author: Ellen Williams-Masson, Correspondent for The Capital Times Published: October 9, 2006 Copyright: 2006 The Capital TimesContact: tctvoice madison.comWebsite: Articles & Web Site:Madison NORML Hundreds Rally To Legalize Marijuana -- Cannabis Archives 
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