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Wisconsin Medical Marijuana Proposal

A Look at Wisconsin's Jacki Rickert Medical Marijuana Act

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Wisconsin Medical Marijuana Proposal
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Wisconsin's Jacki Rickert Medical Marijuana Act (Senate Bill 368 and Assembly Bill 554) was introduced by Wisconsin Representative Mark Pocan and Senator Jon Erpenbach, and has 17 co-sponsors. The measure would allow access to medical marijuana for patients with a number of debilitating diseases and conditions who receive a prescription for marijuana from their doctors.

The Medical Marijuana Act would also install a medical necessity defense to marijuana−related prosecutions and forfeiture actions, prohibit arrest and prosecution of medical marijuana patients, and establish marijuana registry and distribution centers.

Identification Cards

Qualifying patients would obtain a valid registry ID card from the Department of Health Services (DHS), have a valid out−of−state registry ID card, or have a written certification from their physician documenting their need. In addition, the bill prohibits the arrest, prosecution or imposition of any penalty on a physician who provides a written certification to a person in good faith.

Under the bill, a person claiming to be a qualifying patient could apply for a registry ID card by submitting a signed application, accompanied by a written certification and a registration fee of not more than $150. DHS would verify the information and issue the person a registry ID card. This card would be valid for one year, unless revoked based on a change of circumstances, and may be renewed. Under this bill, documents issued by another state identifying a person as a qualifying patient, primary caregiver, or equivalent are treated the same as registry identification cards issued by DHS.

Registry and Distribution Centers

The bill requires DHS to license and regulate nonprofit corporations, known as compassion centers, to distribute, manufacture or deliver marijuana or drug paraphernalia to facilitate the medical use of marijuana. This bill prohibits compassion centers from being located less than 500 feet from a school, from distributing more than a maximum amount of marijuana to a qualifying patient, or from possessing a quantity that exceeds, by an amount determined by DHS, the total maximum amount of marijuana of all of the qualifying patients it serves. An applicant for a license must pay an initial application fee of $250, and a compassion center must pay an annual fee of $5,000.

Medical Marijuana Necessity Defense

This bill establishes a medical necessity defense to marijuana-related prosecutions and forfeiture actions, and prohibits the arrest or prosecution of patients qualified to acquire, possess, cultivate, transport, or use marijuana to alleviate the symptoms or effects of a debilitating medical condition or treatment.

These protections would also extend to the primary caregiver for any qualifying patient, but only if the qualifying patient is not able to acquire marijuana on their own or if the qualifying patient is under 18. The defense and the prohibition apply also to offenses involving drug paraphernalia if the qualifying patient uses the drug paraphernalia for the medical use of marijuana.

When the Medical Marijuana Necessity Defense Would not Apply

The defense and the prohibition on arrest and prosecution do not apply if 1) the person drives or operates a motor vehicle while under the influence of marijuana, 2) the person operates heavy machinery or engages in any other conduct that endangers the health or well−being of another person while under the influence of marijuana, 3) the person smokes marijuana on a bus, at his or her workplace, on school premises, in an adult or juvenile correctional facility or jail, at a public park, beach, or recreation center, or at a youth center, or 4) the patient does not possess more than the maximum authorized amount of marijuana: 12 marijuana plants and three ounces of marijuana leaves or flowers.

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