Measure 13 supporters rally for their cause

Hannah Baker

Hannah BakerNews Editor

The South Dakota Coalition for Compassion and the Students for Sensible Drug Policy had one goal for their rally Monday evening: to educate citizens on Measure 13.

“Measure 13 is a measure for the legalization of medicinal marijuana for the used by patients who are wasting away,” said junior Ben Lamb, Measure 13 supporter, who took part in the rally. “Not everyone is going to be able to get their hands on it and it would only be available for those with illnesses such as cancer, glaucoma, HIV, AIDS and other serious and life-threatening diseases.”

Lamb said the reason for the controversy on Measure 13 is due to negative connotations pinned to medical marijuana and uneducated views on the subject.

“When people hear the words “medical marijuana’ they automatically think, “Oh, that person is a pothead.’ When really, it is not like that at all,” said Lamb. “Measure 13 isn’t about making marijuana more accessible for everyone. It’s about helping those who really need it and giving them the relief that their current prescriptions don’t offer without the awful side effects.”

Emmett Reistroffer, director of communications for the SD Coalition for Compassion, was at the rally hoping to spread the word about the upcoming medical marijuana initiative, taking place on the Nov. 2 ballot.

“We have been working on Measure 13 for the past two years and the point of this rally is to educate people,” said Reistroffer. “We are hoping for a good turnout and a positive outcome on November 2.”

Federal law does not prevent states from removing state criminal penalties for the medical use of marijuana. Reistroffer said if a patient is caught having more medical marijuana than is legal, they would face criminal charges like anyone else caught with marijuana.

“This measure is not a get out of jail free card. Patients have restrictions on how much marijuana they are allowed to possess,” he said.

Some of the restrictions on the initiative are that a patient with a certified doctor recommendation cannot have more than six plants for personal use (equivalent to one ounce) and must go through a six-month therapy session before qualifying for medical marijuana. Also, no dispensaries will be available in South Dakota.

Hughs County Sheriff, Mike Leidholt, is opposed to Measure 13 because marijuana is not FDA approved like other medicines.

“Marijuana is not a medicine and so the dosage and strength cannot be controlled like other prescription medicines,” Leidholt said. “Medicine has come a long way and there are many alternative pain medications available for patients.”

Blake Curd, a medical professional of Sioux Falls is also opposed to Measure 13.

“The main problem [with Measure 13] is it is not about compassion for cancer patients at all. This is a disguised step towards the legalization of marijuana in general,” Curd said. “It could also lead to an increase in drug-associated crime.”

Currently 13 states provide legal protection for seriously ill patients whose doctors recommend the medical use of marijuana including: Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Washington and Vermont.

Reistroffer hopes South Dakota can follow the examples of other states.

President of the Students for Sensible Drug Policy, Melissa Beadle, said Measure 13 is a more natural approach to giving relief to those with serious illnesses that drugs in pill-form do not. She said students should become educated on the initiative and come up with their own opinions, especially those pursuing a medical profession since they will be more involved if the initiative is passed.

Lamb said he also hopes people start thinking for themselves and not focus on the messages society associates with medical marijuana.

“You can believe what you want, but hear both sides of the story,” said Lamb.

#1.1599684:1362558189.jpg:Measure 13 supporters held signs and voiced their opinions on Medary Ave. and Sixth Street Sept. 13.:Measure 13 supporters held signs and voiced their opinions on Medary Ave. and Sixth Street Sept. 13.:Collegian Photo by Brigitte Norby#1.1599690:2802452216.jpg:Medical marijuana is used to ease the pain of the seriously ill.:Medical marijuana is used to ease the pain of the seriously ill, including terminal cancer, glaucoma and Parkinson?s patients. Those opposing Measure 13 doubt the marijuana can live up to the positive effects claimed. :Collegian Photo by Brigitte Norby#1.1599687:2749108973.jpg:Community members and SDSU students rallied at the corner of Sixth Street and Medary Avenue:Community members and SDSU students rallied at the corner of Sixth Street and Medary Avenue to round up support for the upcoming vote on Measure 13 taking place Nov. 2.:Collegian photo by Brigitte Norby