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Medical Marijuana Petition Filed in Pierre

February 23, 2010, 5:47 PM by Jon Wilson

Medical Marijuana Petition Filed in Pierre
SIOUX FALLS, SD - Voters could once again decide whether South Dakota should be the 15th state to legalize medical marijuana.  The measure failed by just four percent in 2006. But proponents believe they have the support they need this time around.

The South Dakota Coalition for Compassion wants voters to decide whether to legalize medical marijuana in the state and organizers are confident this time they'll find success.

"I've talked to so many people from every corner of the state that are behind us.  A lot of people who may have voted against it in 2006," Emmett Reistroffer with the South Dakota Coalition for Compassion said. 

With 32,000 petition signatures, the group turned in nearly double what's needed to put the issue on the ballot.  It's a decision they say could bring relief to patients who don't respond to traditional medicine.

"I've seen what its like to suffer from one of these illnesses and have met MS patients, people who have cancer and there is a community out there of medical marijuana patients that are suffering," Reistroffer says.

"I don't believe the number of people who want this is a large number.  I think there's a vocal number of people but I don't know if there's a large number of people," Dr. Tom Huber with the South Dakota State Medical Association said.  "So far with my patients, or patients I'm familiar with that work with specialists, we seem to have control of this and it doesn't seem to us that we have a huge problem that needs something new and very controversial."

But it's one that could be up to the voters to decide.  We should know in a couple of months whether the signatures are valid and if the issue will return to the ballot in 2010.  Thirteen states have pending legislation that would legalize marijuana for medical reasons.

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