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Saturday, May 28, 2011

Lassa Stands Against Medical Marijauna

State Sen. Julie Lassa (D-Milladore)State Sen. Julie Lassa (D-Milladore)
WI State Legislature

Lassa records: Marshfield Clinic, Sheriff, lobbied against MMJ bill

  • By Gary Storck, Madison NORML Examiner
  • September 23rd, 2010 5:28 pm CT
MADISON: Analysis of records released by State Sen. Julie Lassa (D-Milladore) regarding SB368/AB554 the Jacki Rickert Medical Marijuana Act (JRMMA) reveal overwhelming support for the JRMMA from constituents who wrote or called to express their opinions.
While I have not yet gone sheet by sheet to get a total of contacts in support, considering there were 293 pages and some listed phone logs with multiple contacts that there are conservatively over 200 contacts from ordinary citizens relaying their support. I plan to do a second article that has better numbers and more details. "In Favor" was noted time and time again on phone logs and messages provided by Lassa's office.
Included among released emails was a message from a Central Wisconsin local elected official terming Sen. Lassa's actions "GUTLESS" and closing with, "Shame on you."
The only opposition in the records release came from the Marshfield Clinic, Waushara County Sheriff David Peterson and a Marshfield police officer.
The Marshfield Clinic had reported to the State of Wisconsin that they were lobbying on the JRMMA, but they indicated they were neither for nor against. Records show that they spent thousands of dollars lobbying on SB368. But the newly revealed existence of a letter from Douglas Reding MD, Vice President and Chair of Government Relations at Marshfield Clinic to Senator Lassa, indicates they were against the JRMMA from the beginning. In Reding's letter, note how the opening paragraph attempts to portray the size, scope and clout of the Clinic as if not following their position would have consequences for the Senator.
"On behalf of the Marshfield Clinics 780 physician specialists who practice in 47 centers in Northcentral Wisconsin caring for approximately 365,000 unique patients in 2008 and especially your constituents in the 24th Wisconsin State Senate District, I am writing to indicate that SB368 - Medical Marijuana, though sensitive to the needs of a very few Wisconsin citizens, is not good public policy and not good medical practice based on insufficient authoritative scientific studies at a time when physicians have been charged with providing safe, effective, timely, and equitable patient care."
It takes real writing skills and at least the 69 words Reding used to write a single sentence saying that denying patients legal access to medicine is good public policy and sound medical practice, and the doctor earned every penny with his piece of legal fiction.
I would hope that anyone seeing a physician at a Marshfield clinic would ask if Dr. Reding really spoke for them and all 780 Marshfield Clinic physicians stood firmly against their patients having legal access to cannabis. The biggest irony is that Dr. Reding is an oncologist by training who theoretically, when not lobbying against the best interests of his patients, is radiating them or inundating them with chemotherapy drugs!
The only evidence of opposition in the pages released to us was the letters from the Marshfield Clinic, numerous emails from Sheriff David Peterson of Waushara County, and the Marshfield police officer whose name was redacted.
Here are a few quotes from a selection of Sheriff Peterson's messages to Sen. Lassa, sent through his official email address. We often hear members of law enforcement say they don't make laws, they just enforce them. Sheriff Clark appears to have put quite a bit of effort using official resources to lobby against the Jacki Rickert MMJ Act. Clearly, that is not his philosophy.
From an email dated Wed. Nov. 25, 2009 6:11pm to Sen. Lassa, Rep. Molepske, Rep. Ballweg and Sen. Olsen FWD: RE: Medical Marijuana article
"Interesting article that raises some legitimate concerns. In addition, we are already experiencing a tremendous increase in the use and abuse of prescription medications. It appears this will be an even more difficult issue to govern and enforce. With the information I have seen and heard, I think that legalizing marijuana for any purpose is not the right thing to do. There would be no control over the amount of active ingredients from one plant to another. It will just permit yet another means to circumvent the law and frustrate law enforcement. I am concerned that we are giving in to those people that are hiding behind 'Helping Others' without concern for the damage they will be doing. I am asking you to not support this initiative. Thank you. dp"
It is signed Sheriff David R. Peterson with his official electronic signature.
From an email dated Wed. Nov. 25, 2009 6:17pm to Sen. Lassa, Rep. Molepske, Rep. Ballweg and Sen. Olsen FWD: RE: Medical Marijuana article
"Read this. This is just one article. Bear in mind how marijuana can effect your heart by depleting oxygen in the body which cause the heart to work harder to get more oxygen which can and often does lead to heart attacks. Just one side effect. Greg"
It is signed Sheriff David R. Peterson with his official electronic signature.
Skipping ahead to Feb. 16, 2010, we have another email from the Sheriff again using his official email account:
"Please reject any initiative to legalize marijuana for any purpose in Wisconsin. I realize that the passionate pleas of the 'ill'  are difficult to resist, but when the medical community can not or will not take responsibility for controlling prescription drugs already available we don't need to give them another 'tool' to abuse. The description listed below is not something we need in Wisconsin. The only 'winner' will be law enforcement and human services as we will have increased work load."
Again followed by his official signature.
On Sunday Feb. 21, 2010 at 7:03 pm, we have another missive to Sens. Lassa and Olsen and Reps. Ballweg and Molepske:
"I'm coming to be in Madison for a BSSA meeting on Wednesday 2/24/10. My schedule is pretty tight so I may or may not get over to the Capitol to see you. I feel very fortunate that we are able to communicate on a regular basis and I appreciate that relationship. In case I don't get to see you on Wednesday, I am still opposed to legalizing marijuana for reasons previously stated."
The Sheriff goes on to conclude:
"I intend to seek another term as Sheriff this year. The Good Lord willing and with voter support we will have the opportunity to work together for a few more years. Thanks dp"
What is clear from these records is that Sen. Lassa has chosen to reject the opinions of her constituents in favor of those from special interests like law enforcement and the Marshfield Clinic. In truth, since most Wisconsinites do support legal access to medical marijuana, rejecting the bill is a curious move for someone who is running for the U.S. Congress and needs to attract voters. And judging by some of the letters from constituents in the release, she has lost many once reliable supporters. Perhaps the Marshfield Clinic and law enforcement will make up the deficit and deliver for her.
Read all my Madison NORML Examiner articles here.

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