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Sioux Falls City Council Candidate Helped Make Marijuana Legal In Colorado

January 1, 2014, 5:00 PM by Don Jorgensen

Sioux Falls City Council Candidate Helped Make Marijuana Legal In Colorado
Emmett Reistroffer


It's a historic day in Colorado where marijuana is now legal to buy for recreational purposes.

One Sioux Falls man is celebrating. That's because he played a major role in getting the law passed and now he's running for Sioux Falls City Council. If elected, he plans to push for new city policies when it comes to pot.

Colorado's new law went into effect at midnight with marijuana stores open at 8 a.m. But a lot of people were in line waiting long before that.

Under the new law, you must be 21-or-older to legally buy up to an ounce of pot.

"I believe today represents a tipping point for better drug policies in America," Emmett Reistroffer said.

23-year-old Emmett Reistroffer was the director of the organization called South Dakota Coalition for Compassion that tried to get medical marijuana passed in 2010. But he also worked one year in Colorado laying the ground work for the new marijuana law there.

Reistroffer says the real issue isn't about marijuana itself, but rather justice reform and decriminalizing marijuana use.

"We can continue locking up people, punishing them, labeling them as criminals, setting them up for failure and their own futures as individuals, but as a whole, use our resources to help people to provide treatment to anyone who is faced with addiction, which is a disease. It's not something you should be punished for, it's something that should be treated as a health issue," Reistroffer said.

Reistroffer doesn't think his outspoken views on legalizing marijuana will hurt his chances of getting elected to the Sioux Falls City Council. 

But he does want to push for a policy that looks at marijuana differently.

"There's a difference between decriminalization and legalization, I would seek a local policy that's similar to what they have in over 100 cities across America, makes it the lowest priority for police and makes marijuana possession of small amounts a ticketable offense," Reistroffer said.

The Colorado legislature estimates the sale of marijuana will bring in between $5 and $22 million dollars in sales taxes the first year. Washington state also legalized recreational pot, and its industry opens this summer.

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