Sen. Testin, joins 2 legislators to introduce bill to legalize medical marijuana

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MADISON, Wis. (WSAW) -- Senator Patrick Testin (R-Stevens Point) is one of three Wisconsin legislators to introduce a bill to legalize medical marijuana.

Thomas Uhle, grow manager, tends to marijuana plants growing at GB Sciences Louisiana, in Baton Rouge, La., Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2019. Today was the first day the marijuana, which was grown for medical purposes, was processed and shipped to patients in Louisiana. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

“Growing up, my grandfather was one of my heroes. I watched as cancer robbed him of his strength and vitality,” stated Sen. Testin in a news release. “I saw him make the decision to go outside the law to seek treatment with medical marijuana. It restored his appetite, and I believe it added months to his life. Doctors and patients, not government, should decide if cannabis is the right treatment.”

He says he has heard similar stories from other Wisconsinites. He also made the point that doctors are already allowed to prescribe medicine derived from more dangerous substances like opium.

Testin admits, several republicans "are just not there yet" on this issue. He said he talked with Speaker Robin Vos Friday who told him the bill likely won't see any movement. Despite that, he said it is still an important and worthwhile conversation to have and that it's benefiting people in the 33 other states that have passed similar laws.

He explained he and the other main authors, Senator Jon Erpenbach (D-Middleton) and Representative Chris Taylor (D-Madison), have worked over the last year to create the legislation. He said they looked at states that have legalized the medical use and compiled the best practices from those states.

The bill, which is the first bipartisan bill to legalize medical cannabis since 2001, states people should not have to commit a crime to access medicine for debilitating conditions. The bill also states a need to regulate the industry in order to provide a safe, legal path for people to obtain medical marijuana.

The bill would require patients to get a recommendation from a primary care doctor with whom they have an established relationship. It would also require the Department of Health Services to create a patient registry, and the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection would have to create a licensing system for growers, producers, and sellers.

Last fall, close to one million Wisconsin voters in 16 different counties and two cities, in both red and blue parts of the state, spoke loudly and clearly in support of medical marijuana.

Rep. Katrina Shankland signed on to be a co-author of the bill Friday as well.

“A strong majority of Portage County residents agree that it’s time for us to legalize medical cannabis in Wisconsin. In fact, 83% of Portage County voters in the fall 2018 election supported the referendum asking whether cannabis should be legal for medical use. People overwhelmingly support legalizing medical cannabis, with 81% of voters in Wisconsin recently supporting referenda on legalizing medical cannabis," Rep. Shankland said in a statement.