Health & Wellness Substance Abuse

South Dakota Committee to Vote on Medical Marijuana Issue

Members of the Health and Human Services committee are expected to vote on Tuesday whether it’s time for South Dakota to modify its medical marijuana laws, according to a KSFY report.

House Bill 1227, sponsored by two South Dakota lawmakers with law enforcement backgrounds, allows those charged with marijuana possession to defend themselves in court by arguing they need the drug for medical reasons.

According to the lawmakers, Rep. Dan Kaiser (R-Aberdeen) and Sen. Craig Teiszen (R-Rapid City), their bill is not aimed at legalizing medical marijuana or allowing marijuana dispensaries in the state, but to simply provide arrested medical marijuana users an opportunity to be heard. However, critics are concerned the initiative might be abused and result in a spike in marijuana use, particularly among youth.

Representative Anne Hajek calls the measure a “slippery slope,” saying it’s not a road our state should be going down at this time.

Like Hajek, Attorney General Marty Jackley worries the measure would only open doors to more law enforcement violations.

“The dangers of marijuana — whether medical or recreational — it’s a gateway drug to more dangerous drugs. Strong addiction, a lot of violence, and a lot of law enforcement problems come with medical and recreational use of marijuana,” Jackley said.

Jackley said South Dakota voters have already twice opposed legalizing medical marijuana in the state — once in 2006 and again in 2010.

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