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Wisconsin Assembly passes CBD bill 98-0 sends to Walker for signature

The Wisconsin Assembly today passed SB10/AB49 CBD oil legislation in a unanimous 98-0 vote . CBD or cannabidiol, is among 80 or some cannabinoids found in cannabis plants. CBD has been found to be useful in treating some medical conditions, particularly seizure disorders.

Rep. Chris Taylor first offered Assembly Substitute Amendment 1, To Senate Bill 10. The Amendment would legalize medical cannabis and allow production and distribution.  A debate ensued that included Rep. Joel Kleefisch (R-Oconomowoc) reprising his anecdote about Marinol being sufficient instead of medical cannabis, calling pot a gateway. Others joined in and the Substitute Amendment 1 was voted down. The debate on passage followed. Speaker Robin Vos spoke in favor, along with others.

Rep. Jill Billings (D-La Crosse) said the bill is not enough.  Said there is no way to legally get it. Said driving to Colorado not the solution and you need a medical cannabis card to get it in Illinois. Said this does not provide real relief. Said the bill should have gone farther, should have provided dispensaries. She has heard the families stories three times and it’s time for the next step. Rep. Janel Brandtjen (R-Menomonee Falls) called for unity and passage and mentioned the rule of law. Rep. Daniel Riemer (D-Milwaukee) said the bill deserves support as it helps in small ways, greater access to CBD, limits inteventions from state. Although it doesn’t go far enough, it brings us closer, Riemer said.

Chris Taylor said how heartbreaking it is to listen to the testimony but still wonders how patients can get CBD. Says they’ll have to break a couple laws to get it. Cited how a grandmother of one family said she was going to break it to get it. Said please don’t exacerbate families’ suffering by making them break laws. She urged Speaker Vos to listen to the people on medical cannabis and their constituents support it. Taylor says we all would want it for our loved ones. We are here to address human suffering and need to move forward and end more suffering.

Rep. Christine Sinicki (D-Milwaukee) next rose to speak in favor saying will support it but it does not go far enough. She says we have a chance to do something that is not radical anymore and doctors agree medical pot can help. Rep. Taylor returns with a shout out to Steve Acheson, a veteran and medical cannabis activist, in attendance in the Gallery.

Rep. Scott Krug, AB49 sponsor, is introduced to speak before vote. Krug cites if federal law is changed there will be legal access. Said it is not a problem in other legal states breaking federal law to obtain. Says access isn’t problem. Says waiting for feds to catch up. He said more than just seizure disorders, found its good for seizures, glaucoma, etc. The ability to make the decision with government interference. Said in closing, the bill is about those kids and families. The vote is held 98-0.

The vote sends the bill to Gov. Scott Walker for his signature. Walker signed Wisconsin Act 267 in 2014, also known as Lydia’s law. But the bill’s requirement of FDA approval rendered it symbolic. Last session, the Assembly passed revised legislation requiring only a doctor’s note, but a last minute senate procedural move killed the bill on the last day of the 2015-2016 session.

Sen. Van Wanggaard (R-Racine) and other GOP legislative leaders had vowed to pass AB49/SB10 by March and did, and Gov. Scott Walker has promised to sign it but has although he doesn’t support fully legalizing medical cannabis. The legislation was quickly introduced, had a senate hearing Jan. 31, and passed the state senate on a 31-1 vote Feb. 8 after clearing committee Feb. 2 on a 4-0 vote. The bills were then unanimously voted out of the Assembly Committee on Children and Families on Wednesday, February 22, 2017, setting up today’s floor vote.

That committee had rejected a substitute amendment introduced by Rep. Chris Taylor (D-Madison) that would have legalized production of CBD in Wisconsin. Committee Democrats and some of those testifying at the bill’s hearings have strongly challenged the restrictive language of the bill, which legalizes possession of CBD with a doctor’s note but provides no means of supply or in-state production, leaving patients and families to find their own source of cannabidiol.

The legislation has the support of the Wisconsin Farmers Union, but is opposed by the WI Chiefs of Police Association. The State Medical Society, which spoke against last session’s bills at the 2015 Senate public hearing has not taken a position for or against AB49/SB10. Greenwich Biosciences, Inc., the North American subsidiary of GW Pharmaceuticals, maker of CBD seizure drug Epidiolex, is registered as “Other” on AB49/SB10.

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