Storck: 'We're just people trying to take care of our lives and marijuana is the only thing that works.'
Chronically ill and in pain, Gary Storck says marijuana is the only thing that brings him relief. Unfortunately for Storck and many others, doctors can't prescribe it.
Storck, 52, has worked tirelessly over the last 30 years to get medical marijuana legislation passed in Wisconsin. His latest effort, like his previous ones, failed when the state's legislative session ended two weeks ago.
So far, 14 states have legalized marijuana for medicinal use.
Storck spoke with The Daily Page about why medical marijuana is a tough sell in Wisconsin.
The Daily Page: How was the medical marijuana bill railroaded this time?
Storck: Rep. Leah Vukmir, the chairwoman of the Healthcare and Healthcare Reform committee, stated a year ago that the bill would not pass out of her committee. That alone did not kill it. That was the bidding of Speaker Mike Huebsch and Majority Leader Jeff Fitzgerald, who could've sent it to another committee, such as Rep. J.A. Hines's Public Health committee. Rep. Hines had promised to give the bill a fair hearing. So Huebsch and Fitzgerald made the decision to put it in Vukmir's committee knowing full well it would die there.
How difficult is it to find sponsors to introduce medical marijuana legislation?
We're fortunate to have in the Assembly the two representatives who are reliable co-sponsors of this legislation. I consider them real heroes. They're Rep. Frank Boyle and Rep. Mark Pocan. I'm really proud of them for sticking up for patients.
Have you ever persuaded a politician opposed to it to switch sides?
Scott Suder. He'd been a long time opponent of medical marijuana. He was quoted as saying the patients at the press conference announcing the bill were tools being used to legalize marijuana for all uses. We found that very offensive, so we confronted him one day as he left the Assembly chambers.
I think we got through to him that we're just people trying to take care of our lives and marijuana is the only thing that works. Since then he actually became more open to it. He spoke with Mark Pocan and he talked to Jacki Rickert, who the legislation was named after, for 30 minutes on the phone one night, which is amazing because she couldn't even get her own state senator, who's a Democrat, to talk to her for 10 minutes.
Looks like our neighboring states have some promising legislation in the works.
Yeah, I'm really excited. It's almost certain that medical marijuana will be on the ballot in Michigan. That means, this November, the people of Michigan will have the chance to vote on it. Not only that, but in Minnesota, efforts are underway in the Legislature, and a similar bill passed committee in Illinois a few weeks ago, so it's on the move there again.
At its core, medical marijuana seems to be a human rights issue. So, why are politicians reluctant to get on board?
I don't know. There was a hearing in the state senate this session as well. I worked with Sen. Jon Erpenbach who chairs the Senate Health Committee and he had me bring in extra witnesses. Unfortunately, it was just an informational hearing and the only senator who stuck around for the whole thing was Jon Erpenbach. The other senators weren't even there to listen. We spent a couple thousand dollars bringing in these great experts who could've answered any questions they had and they weren't there. I've said this bill was killed by the Republican leadership in the Assembly, but there's some blame to be spread around Democrats, too.