HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Support Short For Medical Marijuana
Pubdate: Wed, 08 Nov 2006
Source: Argus Leader (Sioux Falls, SD)
Copyright: 2006 Argus Leader
Author: Jay Kirschenmann
Bookmark: (Marijuana - Medicinal)


Opponents Concerned About Controlling Use

A movement to legalize the use of marijuana for medical uses was
headed for defeat with partial election results available late Tuesday.

South Dakota's Initiated Measure 4 was patterned after laws in 11
states. Passage looked doubtful at 11 p.m. with 141,734 votes against
legalized use compared with 127,713 votes in favor, a 53-47 margin,
with 743 precincts out of 818 reporting.

Those against the measure said approval would have led to open use,
and the public might think that it is the only medicine effective for
certain ailments.

Sioux Falls police chief Doug Barthel said he feared that people would
abuse the privilege.

"I think the state will be glad they voted against it, because from an
enforcement aspect, I think it would have been a nightmare for us,"
Barthel said Tuesday night.

"Look at an event like JazzFest where you have thousands of people,"
he said. "Some who would have been allowed to smoke it would be doing
that openly. How would we differentiate between who can and can't?"

Those in favor argued in part that marijuana can relieve seriously ill
patients' discomfort and even save lives. But under South Dakota law,
patients who use it face a year in prison and a $2,000 fine.

Support came from a group called South Dakotans for Medical Marijuana.
A spokesman, Tony Ryan of Sioux Falls, was a police officer in Denver
for 36 years. He has family members who suffer from cerebral palsy and
multiple sclerosis.

"It would be an option," Ryan said. "They don't need it now, but there
might be a day when they need it."

Valerie Hannah of Deerfield supported passage. She uses marijuana in a
vaporized form to ease chronic pain of nerve damage she suffered from
nerve gas in the Gulf War.

Hannah said legal drugs such as morphine make her feel "like a zombie"
and put her in a stupor.

"If it fails, of course it's a disappointment, and very terrifying,"
she said. "I think we need to provide voters with a better education."
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