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South Dakota’s Hard Push for Medical Marijuana in 2016

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new approach north dakotaLike I have said in previous entries, South Dakota isn’t exactly known for amazing drug policy. Actually it probably has some of the worst in the country. Just being in a room where marijuana is being used can get you a year in prison! Furthermore, I know and have heard of many people that have been absolutely screwed over by South Dakota’s draconic drug laws.

While this is a tragedy in and of itself, it goes even further when we are talking about people that use it medically. When people use marijuana in the state of South Dakota to alleviate their seizures or because they would prefer not to use opioids for pain relief, does the law give them any kind of lenience? Of course not! A criminal is a criminal no matter what the intent is in the eyes of the South Dakota justice system. They don’t care how much pain you are in. They don’t care how much you have suffered. All that matters is that you have gone to jail because you have made a choice to better your health that they frown upon.

However, there is still hope for medical marijuana to be on the ballot in the state of South Dakota! While their petitions have not yet reached the required amount needed to be put on the ballot, the petition reportedly only needs about a minimum of 3,000 more signatures to be placed on the 2016 ballot. New Approach South Dakota is hard at work to make this happen! While 3,000 signatures seems like easy work, South Dakota is a relatively sparsely populated state compared to others, and most people you would talk to lean on the conservative side of drug policy (or just have absolutely no knowledge at all).

I am one of the petitioners for the initiative, and you talk to all kinds of people and responses. If anyone has ever petitioned before, you know the most frequented responses you get are “I don’t have time” or “I’m not registered.” My focus is primarily on registering students at South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, in Rapid City, SD, to vote and getting them to sign the petition the next time I see them. Luckily, for the most part, millennials are on the side of sensible drug reform, and are pretty positive to the work I do on campus.

So with only a month left to go, will South Dakota be able to get medical marijuana on the ballot?

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About Author

John Knetemann currently attends South Dakota School of Mines and Technology where he is a chapter leader for Students for Sensible Drug Policy. John has had a passion for drug policy reform since he was a senior in high school, and hasn’t looked back since. Along with his work in SSDP, he is a part of the North American Executive Board for Students For Liberty. You can find John on Twitter.