The public will be able to voice and hear opinions about medicinal marijuana at a joint Legislative committee hearing today.

The Assembly Committee on Public Health and the Senate Committee on Health, Health Insurance, Privacy, Property Tax Relief and Revenue will be holding a public hearing on Senate and Assembly versions of a bill which would legalize the use of marijuana for certain medical treatment purposes.

Sen. Jon Erpenbach, D-Waunakee, and Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Madison coauthored the legislation.

Julie Laundrie, spokesperson for Erpenbach — who is the Senate committee co-chair — said committee members are gearing up for a long meeting and limiting speakers to five minutes on the floor. She added she anticipates a large outpouring of support for the measures.

Rep. Chuck Benedict, D-Beloit, the Assembly committee co-chair, said he is coming into the hearing today “with an open mind.”

A former physician, Benedict said he has never personally directed patients to use marijuana as a treatment for their ailments, saying he considers smoking anything bad for the body.

“I, certainly in my experience, have not recommended smoking or using marijuana, but I’ve heard anecdotal comments from patients who have said it works,” Benedict said.

He added caution should be exercised when considering the testimony, as there have not been many studies on the issue, especially “double blind studies,” where one group uses marijuana for a treatment and another has a placebo.

Committee member Rep. Scott Newcomer, R-Pewaukee, said he is also looking forward to the hearing.

“I think it’s a good thing we take a look and listen to see the implication of this,” Newcomer said. “I’m not sure how I’m voting, but I’m open to listening to all comments and information on medicinal marijuana.”