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KELO TV/Argus Leader Poll: Medical Marijuana

October 28, 2010, 6:00 PM by Don Jorgensen

KELO TV/Argus Leader Poll: Medical Marijuana
It was a heated issue in South Dakota four years ago when it was on the 2006 ballot and it's even hotter today.

If passed, Initiated Measure 13 would legalize medical marijuana in the state.  Supporters of Initiated Measure 13 say medical marijuana would help ease the pain for thousands of people who are sick and dying.

Emmett Reistroffer is the campaign director for Vote Yes on Measure 13.

He says it would allow patients to carry a card that gives them the right to grow marijuana plants. Reistroffer says Measure 13 would not only take away their pain, but give them peace of mind. 

"Measure 13 gives patients an option where they can know where it came from, what's in it and do it legally without fear of criminalization or violent encounter on the street," Reistroffer said.

But opponents say you don't have to travel very far to see the ill effects of legalizing medical marijuana. 

"In Montana, where you got court papers that have every member of a particular Outlaw Motorcycle gang were card-carrying members, so they can carry high-grade pot," Minnehaha County Sheriff Mike Milstead said.

"I believe firmly that the vast majority of South Dakotans agree sick and dying people should be able to get whatever relief they need to help them battle their illness," Reistroffer said.

That's not what we found. If the election were held today, according to our KELO-TV/Argus Leader scientific poll, medical marijuana would not pass. 32 percent say they would for in favor of legalizing it, but 62 percent say no. Six percent are still undecided.

Currently, 14 states have legalized medical marijuana. But Milstead believes South Dakota voters have educated themselves on the issue and looked at those states and the problems they are now having. 

"It becomes extremely easy to get the card and becomes very difficult for public safety to manage it.  It's not what the voters intended, I believe, when they passed some of the laws," Milstead said.

[Review poll results]

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