South Dakota – Signatures to be Filed for Medical Marijuana Vote

January 22, 2010 – Medical marijuana advocates plan to file petition signatures Monday seeking a statewide vote on a proposal to legalize marijuana in South Dakota for use in treating pain, nausea and other health problems.

Emmett Reistroffer of Sioux Falls, one of the organizers of the petition drive, said he had planned to file the signatures Wednesday but decided not to drive to Pierre because of icy roads. He said he will file the signatures with the secretary of state’s office on Monday if travel is safe.

Supporters have collected 30,000 signatures, far more than the 16,776 valid signatures needed to put the measure on the November ballot, Reistroffer said.

A similar measure narrowly failed in the 2006 election, when it received 48 percent of the vote. Fourteen states have legalized medical marijuana, and Reistroffer said support for medical marijuana has grown among South Dakotans in the past few years.

“They’ve really started to come around and look at this issue as a matter of compassion for the sick and dying,” he said.

Reistroffer said he got involved in the petition drive because his mother suffers from Lupus, a chronic inflammatory disease that can affect the joints, skin, blood, kidneys and other body parts. Symptoms include extreme fatigue, headaches and painful or swollen joints.

Marijuana helps relieves his mother’s inflammation and swelling, Reistroffer said, and he believes doctors should decide whether people need such treatment.

The proposal would legalize limited use of marijuana to treat severe debilitating pain, nausea, seizures and other medical problems. Those eligible would include people with cancer, glaucoma, AIDS, multiple sclerosis and other diseases.

Law enforcement officials say they worry others, including teenagers, also will find ways to get the drug.

In states that allow medical marijuana, law enforcement officers have had a difficult time distinguishing between those who can legally use it and those who hide behind the medical law so they can smoke it for recreational use, South Dakota Attorney General Mary Jackley said.

“It essentially becomes complete authorization of marijuana use,” Jackley said.

And some people, he said, can be hurt by the use.

“As a prosecutor, I’ve seen the adverse effects that marijuana can have on certain personalities,” the attorney general said. “We’ve experienced violent crimes associated with the use of marijuana.”

Copyright © 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. The information contained in the AP News report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press. By CHET BROKAW. Source.

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