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Law Enforcement Condemns Marijuana Measure

October 20, 2006, 4:40 PM by Lou Raguse

Law Enforcement Condemns Marijuana Measure
Election day will determine the fate of legalizing medical marijuana for patients in South Dakota with chronic pain. On Friday, the White House sent its deputy drug czar to Sioux Falls to ask voters to vote "no."

Deputy Drug Czar Scott Burns joined state and local officials to get their message out, that legalizing medical marijuana will make it too easy for anyone to get and hard for law enforcement to monitor. 

But those who support the ballot measure say the officials are just trying to scare voters.

Burns says if South Dakota legalizes medical marijuana, it will become much easier for kids to steal from their parents who use it legally, much like stealing beer from their parent's fridge. 

"How can anyone think that making more drugs and more marijuana available to young people is a good thing?" he asks.

But Valerie Hannah, who smokes pot to help ease chronic pain says it's far less dangerous than other prescription drugs like Oxycontin, which kids could steal just as easily. 

"They're trying to put scare and fear into people and put marijuana in a league with drugs it doesn't belong with," she says.

Burns calls the ballot measure a "con." And law enforcement officials say its language is too vague, making it nothing more than a drug legalization bill. 

"This is not a medicinal marijuana," says Minnehaha County State's Attorney Dave Nelson. "This is an opportunity for people who are drug abusers and marijuana abusers to find a more ready source for their drug."
 
Hannah says because a doctor's recommendation is needed, only the very sick and suffering will get it.  And for those who want to abuse it, they'd still have an easier time getting the pot from a drug dealer. 

"I think they're giving too much glamour to it," Hannah says. "And I think they're really trying to scare the public into not thinking for themselves."

There are 11 states with legalized medical marijuana. The South Dakota ballot measure is based on Montana's law, which 66-percent of voters there approved two years ago. 

Read the measure for youself here.  And you can read more about the opposing arguments here.

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