Compared to 2020, cannabis was much less tolerated around Wisconsin in 2004 than today, where local ordinances frequently place a low priority on possession of small amounts. Few patients were willing to advocate for medical cannabis out of fear of legal consequences.
In Dec. 2004, a Sauk County judge dismissed cannabis possession charges against Cheryl Lam, a Wisconsin woman who had spent some time in California, where medical cannabis as first legalized statewide by voters in 1996. One of the pioneer activists who helped write and pass that law, Prop 215, was Dr. Tod Mikuriya. Few physicians would recommend cannabis to patients in the early days of Prop 215, so Dr. Tod would traverse the state seeing patients and approving their medical use.
After being bitten by a brown recluse spider, Lam was treated by Dr. Tod, who recommended cannabis. That recommendation was pivotal in Lam's case being dismissed instead of going to trial, and the case highlighted the value of an old Wisconsin statute that allows possession of a controlled substance with a valid order of a practitioner.