Pubdate: Fri, 08 Oct 2010
Source: Mirror, The (SD Edu)
Contact:  2010 The Mirror
Author: Megan Brandsrud


In 2009, Paul Walery was diagnosed with lymphoma and began the
treatment process of chemotherapy and radiation. In 1995, Eric
Kritzmire was in a diving accident and suffered from a spinal cord
injury that made him a paraplegic.

Walery remembers the loss of appetite, the nausea and cramps that came
from the chemotherapy. Kritzmire suffers regularly from severe muscle

Based on clinical definitions, both of these men know what it's like
to experience a debilitating medical condition. The only difference is
their way of treating the pain.

However, on Nov. 2, Walery and Kritzmire could be on level playing
fields if South Dakota votes in favor of Initiated Measure 13, which
would legalize the use of medical marijuana in the state. Passage of
Initiated Measure 13 would make South Dakota the 15th state to allow
marijuana to be used as a treatment for debilitating medical conditions.

Originally from Lennox, S.D., Walery moved to Colorado four years ago
to work at a ski resort.

Because of his new residency, he was able to obtain a medical
marijuana prescription from his doctor when he started chemotherapy
treatments. Walery credits this prescription for getting him through
chemotherapy's negative side effects.

"When I was doing chemo, that s--- saved my life," Walery said. "Chemo
makes food you used to eat taste like metal, and the marijuana made me
want to eat again. It got rid of the pains and cramps and helped
relieve the emotional stress I was going through at the time. It was
better than any pharmaceutical drug I was ever prescribed."

Kritzmire, a South Dakota resident, spent some time in Colorado at
Craig Hospital after suffering from his spinal cord injury. It was
there that he met people who used marijuana for medical purposes to
help treat the exact pain that he was experiencing.

"Over the years, I've met people with disabilities and I know people
who have been helped by using marijuana for their pain," Kritzmire
said. "Marijuana is able to provide relief and doesn't give them any
negative side effects."

Tony Ryan, a retired police officer and medical marijuana advocate, is
part of the Yes on 13 campaign that hopes to make medical marijuana
legal for South Dakota residents like Kritzmire who are suffering from
chronic pain.

"This is about providing some of our state's most vulnerable residents
with access to relief without having the fear of arrest," Ryan said.
"The professional research in favor of medical marijuana is growing
every day. We would have the strictest law of its kind, ensuring that
only the people who need it can get it."

However, some feel the initiated measure is not strict

Trevor Jones, a South Dakota law enforcement member, has been
volunteering with the No on 13 campaign since April 2010 and feels
that Initiated Measure 13 has too many loop-holes.

"This is not a medicine, so we have to stop calling it that," Jones
said. "If it was a medicine, it would be regulated the way other
medicines are and you'd have to go in for regular doctor visits to
renew the prescription. God forbid there is some accountability in
this initiative."

Although Initiated Measure 13 would require written certification from
a qualified physician stating that the potential benefits of the
medical use of marijuana would likely outweigh the health risks for
the qualifying patient, it does not require regular prescription
renewals aside from the annual mandatory registry identification card
renewal by patients and caregivers.

Ryan sees this as an advantage since pharmaceutical drugs with similar
benefits require patients to go in for monthly blood tests in addition
to the therapy or regimens they need to treat their disease or
debilitating condition.

Another issue that divides the "Yes" and "No" campaigns is the way the
marijuana would be cultivated and dispensed.

Those in favor of the initiative believe that personally choosing seed
strains and harvesting the plants would let patients to know exactly
what they are ingesting.

The opposition believes that the drug should have to pass FDA
regulations like other prescription drugs before it can be distributed
to patients.

"This initiative is not what it seems; it's a con-job," Jones said.
"It would only increase the availability of an addictive substance and
make the streets even less safe. Marijuana is not a medicine; it's a
way for people to get high and forget about their pain."

Emmett Reistroffer is the director of communications for the South
Dakota Coalition for Compassion, which is in favor of the measure. He
uses the support from medical and scientific communities such as The
American Nurses Association and the Institute of Medicine as evidence
of marijuana's medical benefits.

"What makes marijuana a gate-way drug right now is the fact that it's
in the black market with the hard narcotics," Reistroffer said.
"Otherwise, it's been proven that there is no chemical

Although he hasn't been able to be a part of South Dakota's campaign,
Paul Walery hopes that his native-state will choose to adopt the
measure so that South Dakotans like Eric Kritzmire who are suffering
from chronic conditions will be able to explore their medical options.

"This stuff isn't for potheads," Walery said. "It's for people who are
trying to have a better quality of life when they're going through a
medical nightmare."

More information about the campaigns for Initiated Measure 13 can be
found at and .
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