2013 Wisconsin Cannabis Legislation Meeting occurred on August 5, 2012 at EVP Coffee in Madision, Wisconsin. Members from Madison NORML, Northern Wisconsin NORML, and Southeastern Wisconsin NORML came together to discuss the future of Wisconsin's Medical Marijuana legislation. During the first meeting, our primary focus was to create lists of things that we do & do not want to be included in the bill(s).
The meeting was led by Nate Petreman, President of Madison NORML. Several other members of Madison NORML were also in attendance, including Dennis Brennan, creator of the Ben Masel Project. Executive Director Jay Kemp represented Southeastern Wisconsin NORML from the Milwaukee area. Executive Director Rich Martin and Secretary Jessica Franke represented Northern Wisconsin NORML from the Fox Valley area.
Here are just a few of the documents that we reviewed when discussing items to include or exclude from future Wisconsin legislation:
It is our hope that after the election and all of the excitement has died down, politicians might be ready to approve well written, thoughtful legislation. We want to make sure that when they are ready to listen to us, we have a solid document that it will be difficult to find fault with, and which is fair and balanced with scientific evidence.
Here is an overview of a couple of the topics that we discussed:
Rich brought up the topic of drugged driving laws, the types of drug tests used in the field, and how they can detect drug metabolites in your body VS active Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Here is a brief overview of some of the concerns around this topic, excerpted from an article titled "You Are Going Directly To Jail: What It Means, Who's Behind It, and Strategies to Prevent It " on the National NORML blog:
Blood or Urine? Fluid Matters
The language of "zero tolerance" per se laws is critical. Most state zero tolerance DUID laws contain some variation of the following language:
It is unlawful for any person to drive or be in actual physical control of any vehicle while there is any detectable amount of a controlled substance or its metabolite present in the person's body, as measured in the person's blood, urine, saliva, or other bodily fluid.
The distinction between "parent drugs" and "drug metabolites" is a critical one. The term "parent drug" refers to the identifiable psychoactive compound or compounds present in a controlled substance (i.e., for cannabis-based drugs, marijuana and hashish, the parent drug is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol aka THC). By contrast, the term "drug metabolite" refers to those byproducts produced in the body after a substance is metabolized. Though the presence of metabolites in blood or urine generally is indicative that a certain substance was previously consumed, not all metabolites are psychoactive (i.e., Marijuana's THC-COOH metabolite, which is readily detectable in urine, is not psychoactive, but 11-hydoxy-THC is.), nor does their detection reliably establish that the parent drug is still present in the body. (With cannabis, THC-COOH is typically not even present urine until well after the drug has been consumed.) Consequently, the US Department of Justice affirms that a positive drug test result for the presence of a drug metabolite "does not indicate ... recency, frequency, or amount of use; or impairment." A US Department of Transportation report further states that while a positive test for drug metabolites is "solid proof of drug use within the last few days, it cannot be used by itself to prove behavioral impairment during a focal event."
Understanding the various methods of drug detection is also critical. As stated above, most zero tolerance DUID legislation allows for law enforcement to mandate a suspect to have his or her "bodily fluids" screened for the presence of drugs or drug metabolites. The "bodily fluids" in question are: blood, saliva, and urine.
Jessica brought up Castle Doctrine and how it could be used to apply to Medical Marijuana patients. According to Wikipedia, the basic definition of Castle Law is this:
A Castle Doctrine (also known as a Castle Law or a Defense of Habitation Law) is an American legal doctrine that designates a person's abode (or, in some states, any place legally occupied, such as a car or place of work) as a place in which the person has certain protections and immunities and may in certain circumstances use force, up to and including deadly force, to defend against an intruder without becoming liable to prosecution. Typically deadly force is considered justified, and a defense of justifiable homicide applicable, in cases "when the actor reasonably fears imminent peril of death or serious bodily harm to himself or another". The doctrine is not a defined law that can be invoked, but a set of principles which is incorporated in some form in the law of most states.
Further down we read that:
Not only was the doctrine considered to justify defense against neighbors and criminals, but any of the crown's agents who attempted to enter without a proper warrant as well. It should be noted that prohibitions of the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution share a common background with current castle doctrine laws.
If a man's home is his castle, and he has certain protections there, then doesn't that mean Medical Marijuana patients, and even just ordinary citizens, should be secure in their homes against unreasonable government intrusions, so long as they are not out on the road driving under the influence, or otherwise bothering anyone?
Cannabis is safe, beneficial medicine for many common ailments. From fighting headaches (see: Cannabis for migraine treatment: the once and future prescription? An historical and scientific review by Ethan Russo); to Glaucoma (see: Cannabis and glaucoma - The inside story by Nick Lane PhD); to possibly even Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (MAPS is trying to push through red tape to do a scientific study of this); and many other ailments; there is no reason that any United States citizen should be prevented from using a beneficial plant in the privacy of their own home. You don't need to be dying to benefit from eating cannabis, using cannabis oil, and many other products that should be available to a free people living in a free society under a free market system.
We have been looking at the laws in other states, as well as news articles and other items that may indicate why some of those laws are facing opposition so we can avoid those types of pitfalls. We need your help with our research so that we can do a thorough job in a timely fashion. What other topics should we consider when discussing and writing future cannabis legislation for Wisconsin? What do you think? Comment below and let us know!