South Dakota Legislature Will Take Up a Medical Marijuana Bill This Session

Submitted by Phillip Smith on
South Dakota's one-man marijuana reform movement, Bob Newland, has informed the Chronicle that he has found a legislative sponsor for a medical marijuana bill and there will be a hearing soon, most likely before the end of the month. The text of the proposed bill can be read here. It would be a very pleasant surprise if this bill were to pass, and a sweet vindication for activists like Newland in the only state to fail to pass a medical marijuana legalization initiative at the polls. In the 2006 initiative, medical marijuana gained 48% of the popular vote. Earlier efforts to pass a bill in the legislature went nowhere, and the opposition to this bill will be led by Attorney General Larry Long (R), who was also point man for initiative opponents in 2006. (Who knew the AG was an MD? Oh, he isn't.) Newland sought meetings with Long in an effort to address "law enforcement concerns," but Long made it clear that he is unalterably opposed to medical marijuana. Period. Newland also has a fall-back bill prepared if, as he predicts, Republicans will be aghast at allowing patients to grow their own medicine and try to kill the bill. The fall-back bill simply allows an affirmative defense in a patients is arrested and prosecuted for his medicine.

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