Supporters of medical marijuana made  their case heard at the Capitol Tuesday.  Lawmakers held a hearing on the bill, which would allow patients suffering from a variety of medical conditions to use cannabis as part of their treatment. State Senator Jon Erpenbach (D-Waunakee) says it’s about compassionate care for those who see marijuana as the quickest and easiest way to ease their pain, but currently have to break the law to use it.

Under the bill, patients would need a doctor’s approval to access the drug, which they could either grow or obtain through licensed distribution centers. They would also have to register with the state.

State Representative Leah Vukmir (R-Wauwatosa) questions the motives behind the bill. She accused the sponsors of hiding behind the sick and dying so they can push through full legalization of marijuana

Erpenbach strongly denied that’s the intent of the legislation. He says the last thing he wants to see is full legalization of the drug.

Opponents of the bill also raised concerns about patients be encouraged to smoke the drug for treatment. But supporters were quick to point out that the drug can also be eaten or used with a vaporizer.

There are also worries about circumventing the federal government by having the state essentially take on the drug approval process, rather than the FDA. Erpenbach says federal officials have delayed taking action to research the use of medicinal cannabis. He also points out that little action has been taken in the 13 other states with medical marijuana legislation already on the books.

The measure is being considered by legislative committees in both the Assembly and Senate. If lawmakers eventually approve it, Governor Doyle has said he will sign the bill.

AUDIO: Andrew Beckett reports (1:03)


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