Momentum Builds in South Dakota for Medical Marijuana Legislation

This year’s midterm elections brought the grand total of states that allow for legal use of marijuana for medicinal purposes up to 23, along with Washington, D.C.And with nationwide support for medical marijuana at an all-time high, voters and pro-marijuana advocates in South Dakota are pushing for their state to become the next stepping stone on the path to nationwide medical marijuana legalization.

According to a Nov. 24 Argus Leader article, about two dozen medical marijuana proponents met at the South Dakota Medical Marijuana Summit in Sioux Falls on Saturday, to discuss a plan of action for getting the medical marijuana question on the ballot in 2016’s elections.

“We had some compelling stories today that we’re going to bring to the capitol in the next legislative session and we’re going to ask the legislatures and the governor to give these patients a safe option in South Dakota,” Director of the South Dakota Compassion Emmett Reistroffer said at the summit.

Currently, the federal government classifies marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug under the terms of the Controlled Substances Act, meaning that medicinal marijuana is prohibited in South Dakota.

“As more and more states adopt medicinal marijuana is a helpful and safe product or treatment of a number of medical conditions, the federal position and its classification of medicinal marijuana as a schedule 1 drug becomes more and more ludicrous,” says Dr. David Imrie of the Medicinal Marijuana Association.

In states where medicinal marijuana has been made legal, anecdotal evidence proves that marijuana and its components can be used to treat a vast variety of different illnesses and ailments. These range from chronic pain, mental health concerns, seizure disorders, side effects of chemotherapy and much more.

To make its case to the South Dakota state legislature, the members of the South Dakota Family Coalition for Compassion, a pro-medical marijuana advocacy group, have begun to compile narratives from South Dakota residents who suffer from conditions that could be treated with medicinal marijuana.

The organization particularly focuses on children — as children who suffer from epilepsy see an average of 80% fewer seizures when using medicinal marijuana, according to founder Melissa Mentele.

“Medicinal marijuana is being accepted in many states because people have taken the legal risk of criminal isolation to self medicate chronic disabling conditions, and have met with more success than with pharmaceutical treatments,” says Dr. Imrie.

To work toward a spot on the 2016 ballot, the supporters who attended the Sioux Falls summit plan on soliciting House and Senate sponsors to back a medical marijuana bill for South Dakota, the Argus Leader reports.

In the spring, the group will hold a petition drive in an effort to get the 30,000 needed signatures for the ballot spot.

Do you think South Dakota voters will end up deciding the medical marijuana question in the 2016 election? Share your thoughts with us by leaving a comment below.

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