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Lawmakers plan public hearing Dec. 15 on medical marijuana bill

Wisconsin lawmakers will hold a public hearing Dec. 15 on a bill to let cancer patients and others take marijuana to relieve their pain.

Sen. Jon Erpenbach, D-Waunakee, and Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Madison, pushed for the measure at a news conference Monday, along with those who have chronic diseases who say the drug would help them.

Most of them also spoke at a Madison rally a few weeks ago.

But that was before the Obama White House said it would not prosecute users and providers of medicinal marijuana in states where it's legal - and Gov. Jim Doyle said he had no problem with it.

Last week, the American Medical Association asked the federal government to review marijuana's legal status to make it easier to do research for pot-based medicines.

Jacki Rickert of Mondovi has tried for more than a decade to make medicinal pot legal.

She has several diseases, including bone and joint disorders in which marijuana relieves the pain of her muscle spasms.

Thirteen states legalize it with a doctor's prescription.

But in Wisconsin, Republicans who ran the Legislature until a year ago would not take up similar measures.

Now, Erpenbach says he'll try to get a vote on the bill in January.

It has 17 co-sponsors among the 132 in the Assembly and Senate.