Pubdate: Mon, 31 Jan 2005
Source: Pierre Capital Journal (SD)
Copyright: Pierre Capital Journal, South Dakota newspapers 2005
Author: Leta Nolan Childers, Capital Journal Staff
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)


Patients might prefer pot to popping pills, but they won't be doing
that legally in South Dakota.

The House Health and Human Services Committee deferred a bill that
would have legalized the medicinal use of marijuana to the 41st day of
the legislative session, effectively killing it.

Rep. Gerald Lange, D-Madison, introduced the bill, which lacked any
co-sponsors. Lange said that he introduced the bill at the request of
one of his constituents who is suffering from a debilitating disease.

"There are certain debilitating medical conditions such as cancer,
glaucoma, and human immunodeficiency viruses. There are various other
diseases that are rather untreatable by contemporary medical
practices," said Lange.

"In other words, there's a nausea effect of a lot of medicines where
marijuana doesn't cause the same kind of side effects."

Lange said that he wrote the bill to limit the patients who might use
marijuana to only those whose doctor believes that the use of pot
outweighs the health risks associated with the drug. The bill also
mandated that anyone who was prescribed the marijuana had to register
with the Department of Health.

"So, this is kind of a control on the usage of this normally illegal
drug," said Lange.

Charlie McGuigan, from the attorney general's office, said his office
was in opposition to any bill that would "legalize marijuana in any
form, whether it's medical marijuana, industrial hemp or any other
concoction that would give credence to this substance."

In South Dakota, explained McGuigan, marijuana is not a scheduled
controlled substance, but possession of it is illegal. Under federal
law, it is a scheduled controlled substance.

"The federal government has determined that it has no medical use and
is highly addictive," said McGuigan.

McGuigan said that according to the bill, a patient would be able to
have "an adequate supply" of marijuana on hand, 5 ounces.

"Depending on how you roll it, that could be as many as 280 joints,"
said McGuigan, who added that if a patient smoked one joint a day it
would be nearly a year's supply. He said he don't know of any
prescription medicine that a patient would receive that much of at a

Dan Mosteller, superintendent of the South Dakota Highway Patrol, said
that he opposed the bill because legalizing marijuana was no better
than attempts to legalize industrial hemp--subterfuge for a larger
agenda in the nation, legalizing the use of marijuana.

"It's no coincidence that all these people are working together
because the agenda is the softening or the legalization of marijuana
in this country," said Mosteller. "These types of movements, in my
opinion, are merely a smoke screento legalize or soften the drug laws
in this state and other states in the union."

In his rebuttal, Lange told the committee that whether anyone liked it
or not, this was one way that people were taking charge of their own

"This is a wave that is coming," said Lange. "This bill is very
restrictive. It is not a slippery slope."

Lange quoted the New England Journal of Medicine and the National
Institute of Health, both promoting the research and use of medical
marijuana for the treatment of individual with serious, debilitating

Rep. Bill Thompson, D-Sioux Falls, spoke in favor of the bill during
committee discussion, relating the story of his wife's grandmother who
used marijuana while battling liver cancer. Thompson was the only
member of the committee to vote against deferring the bill.
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