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Republican Lawmaker Introduces Medicinal Marijuana Bill
By Jerry Burke
An Oshkosh Republican is doing what many in his party might feel is unthinkable. State Representative Gregg Underheim is introducing a bill to legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes.
Underheim's motives stem from his own bout with prostate cancer.
Like any Republican, Underheim has strong convictions about the legalization of certain drugs, but his attitude about using marijuana for medicinal purposes changed after doctors removed his cancerous prostate.
Although Underheim didn't take any marijuana in his recovery, he was told of others who could have used it. "One of the themes that echoed consistently was the difficulty of chemotherapy."
According to the Marijuana Policy Project, eight states have laws protecting patients who use marijuana for medicinal purposes.
Five states had laws which were repealed, or expired and were not renewed.
Twelve more states have laws allowing therapeutic research programs using medicinal marijuana, provided that the federal government approved the programs.
Underheim is especially sensitive to the ravages of cancer because his father died from it. That's why he's introduced a bill that's raising some eyebrows.
"I think it's fair to raise the issue to the level of public policy debate," Underheim said, "and see what the public has to say about it, see what experts have to say about it, and see what my fellow legislators have to say about it."
Underheim says there are two things that will dictate how this bill is received in Madison. One is public reaction, which he feels will be receptive to his idea. The other is the medical community, which Underheim admits has mixed feelings on the issue.
"I don't think the issue will move forward in one legislative session," he acknowledged.
But Underheim, who's chairman of the Assembly Health Committee, is confident his proposal won't be shoved aside.
"I think the Republicans in the legislature are willing to listen."
-------------------- "A human being is part of a whole, called by us the Universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separated from the rest--a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circles of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty."