The 2010 South Dakota medical marijuana bill, HB 1127, died a newborn as a House committee voted to table it only a week after it was introduced. The bill failed in the House Health and Human Services Committee on a 9-4 vote after representatives of state law enforcement claimed it would make its job more difficult.
"Medical marijuana seems to have been the best pain and anxiety relief I've received in the past 10 years," said Hannah, who was a spokesperson for the failed attempt in 2006 to pass a medical marijuana initiative. That effort garnered 48% of the popular vote.
Sioux Falls MS sufferer Patrick Lynch also testified. He said marijuana eased the symptoms of his disease and the side effects of other treatments he was taking. "By taking a few puffs after I take my shot, which is an injection, it eliminates both the headaches and the nausea that go along with it," Lynch said. "I'm not a pothead. I'm a human being with a disease."
South Dakota Chief Deputy Attorney General Charles McGuigan was much more concerned about potheads than with human beings suffering from disease. He told the panel his office is opposed to marijuana in any form.
The push for the bill came from long-time South Dakota marijuana activist Bob Newland and the organization South Dakotans for Safe Access, who are vowing to put the issue to the voters in another initiative in 2010. During the legislative session, Newland told solons this year was their chance to craft a medical marijuana bill; next year it will be his turn.
A backup bill, HB 1128, which would have allowed an affirmative medical necessity defense, also died this week. It was "deferred to the 41st legislative day" by the House Judiciary Committee. South Dakota's legislative session lasts 40 days.
Meanwhile, the South Dakota House Monday passed a bill, HB 1090 that would place salvia divinorum on Schedule I of the state's controlled substances list. The bill declares an "emergency," meaning it will go into effect 30 days from being signed into law.
"I'd like to have the drug off the street by the end of February", said Rep. Chuck Turbiville (R-Deadwood), the bill's prime sponsor. "It's just finding its way onto the Internet. It's just finding its way onto the street."
At least the House accepted an amendment by Rep. Larry Lucas (D-Mission) that would provide for a misdemeanor possession charge. Under the Lucas amendment, less than two ounces of salvia would be a misdemeanor instead of a felony.
South Dakota looks to be well down the path to criminalizing salvia, joining an accelerating trend among the states.