Vote yes on 13; legalize medical marijuana, says columnist

Ryan Rolfs

Ryan RolfsGuest Columnist

For as long as I can remember, I have been told that marijuana is a very dangerous and harmful drug that can lead me down a path to destruction. This may be true in some rare occurrences; but there are also many positive uses for this drug.

The South Dakota ballot initiative 13 addresses such uses. I would be willing to bet that a fair number of the people reading this article have been forced to watch a loved one waste away in front of their eyes, knowing that nothing is within their grasp that can help this person. I personally have watched people that I care about deal with the terrible effects of advanced multiple sclerosis and also have seen the wasting away effect of cancer treatments knowing that nothing I could say or do would ease the pain. While doctors have the ability to write prescription after prescription, these prescriptions often hold side effects that are just terrible as the original cause for the medicine. This causes patients to be forced to consume, in many cases, multiple medicines to the point that their medicine cabinet begins to resemble an apothecary’s shop.

Marijuana can help relieve many of the symptoms associated with a series of diseases. It can help to prevent shaking of multiple sclerosis, and it can also help spur appetite in terminally ill cancer patients. It can act as a painkiller, and one of the greatest attributes of the drug, is that it does not require any other prescriptions to set off risky side effects, nor is it a drug that has been developed in a laboratory. This law is about getting patients the care they need, in order to help them through sickness and disease. It is a law about compassion, not about trying to make a recreational drug legal.

Opponents to initiative 13 are using scare tactics to try and stop legislation from going through that has the intent of adding another valuable piece of medicine to our doctor’s arsenals. The website has a few very hefty claims, but it seems that the operators of the site have failed to study the piece of legislation that they so greatly oppose. The home page reads, “If passed, initiative 13 would allow marijuana dispensaries to openly sell marijuana next to day care centers, schools, and next to the town’s local hardware store.”

The initiative blatantly states that no dispensaries will be allowed in South Dakota. Furthermore, the law would be the most restrictive of medical marijuana laws in the United States. Patients would be required to have a six-month relationship with the doctor who was prescribing the medicine, and that relationship would include two doctor visits. Since dispensaries are deemed illegal in the initiative, the patient could grow up to six plants themselves, or choose a care giver to do so for them, and in both situations the grower would only be allowed to have two usable ounces at a time. The caregiver would have to be approved by the South Dakota Department of Health.

In the initiative driving under the influence of the medication is prohibited, and so is the use of the medication around children. The medication would also not be allowed in public areas. If any patient is found to be violating these restrictions, they are subject to criminal penalties. The Department of Health would have direct control over the program, and would re-evaluate every six months whether continued use of the medication is necessary.

I urge every voter to reconsider any preconceptions they may have about medical marijuana. This initiative is not about putting marijuana in the hands of anyone who wants it; instead it is about putting the proper medicine into the hands of the patients who are desperately looking for even a slight ease of their symptoms. This initiative is about compassion for our fellow South Dakotans. Remember, on Nov. 2, vote yes on 13!

Ryan Rolfs is the president of the SDSU Political Science Club. He can be contacted at [email protected].

#1.1654864:2307011251.jpg:Ryan Rolfs is the president of the SDSU Political Science Club. He can be contacted at rprolfs@jacks:Ryan Rolfs is the president of the SDSU Political Science Club. He can be contacted at [email protected]. :NA