GREEN BAY — People who support using marijuana for medical purposes in Wisconsin hope a Michigan proposition could have a ripple effect in the Badger state.
On Election Day, a two-thirds majority in Michigan voted for the proposition, which would allow people with serious or terminal illnesses to use marijuana if certified by a doctor. The law allows patients to possess 2.5 ounces of marijuana; they would receive a state ID card.
The law only recognizes patients with identification cards or their equivalent given out by states that also allow medical marijuana.
It's legal according to Michigan law, but federal law still prohibits the drug, even for medicinal purposes. In 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that state laws allowing the use don't provide immunity from federal prosecution.
"The federal government has been hostile to these laws," said Bruce Mirken, communications director for the Marijuana Policy Project, a Washington, D.C.-based group that lobbied for the Michigan law. "But a quarter of the country now allows it."
Twelve states and Michigan allow severely ill patients to use marijuana in their treatment.
Gary Storck, director of a nonprofit lobbying organization called Madison NORML, said he thinks the Great Lakes states would take their cue from Michigan.
Unlike Michigan, where citizens can place ballot referendums, a Wisconsin law would have to go through the Legislature and receive the governor's signature or be placed on a ballot for a referendum.
The Wisconsin Nurses Association and the Wisconsin Public Health Association support the legalization of medical marijuana.
By Malavika Jagannathan
Gannett Wisconsin Media
November 8, 2008