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Marijuana: Drug Or Medicine?

November 1, 2010, 6:55 PM by Don Jorgensen

Marijuana: Drug Or Medicine?
It nearly passed four years ago in South Dakota, but this year, the attempt to legalize medical marijuana looks to be going up in smoke.

According to our KELO-TV/Argus Leader poll only 32 percent are in favor of Initiated Measure 13 while 62 percent are not.

Is marijuana a drug or a medicine? The answer depends on who you ask.

"This is a very passionate issue for me," Patrick Lynch said.

For Lynch, who suffers from Multiple Sclerosis, marijuana is a medicine that gives him comfort from severe muscle spasm that he says other drugs cannot.

"At one time, I was on valium to eliminate the muscle spasms. Valium. Did it work? Yeah, it took them away but it also made me feel like a bowl of jelly all day long," Lynch said.

Lynch smokes marijuana now and is not afraid of being arrested.

"I guess I just want to be a face out there to let people know there are people who are using this already and benefiting from it," Lynch said.

But Hughes County Sheriff Mike Leidholt is one of many law enforcement officials in South Dakota who has been speaking out against Measure 13.

Leidholt says if Measure 13 passes, people will be able to grow enough pot to make 30 joints a day.

"And that's some of our concerns. Where are those extra joints going to go? Somebody going to break in and steal them? Somebody going to break in and murder somebody for them? Cause that's what's happening in states that have legalized marijuana," Leidholt said.

Measure 13 also allows a "caregiver" to supply someone with marijuana. Leidholt says calling that person a "caregiver" is a slap in the face to health professionals.

"By definition a 'caregiver' can grow marijuana, harvest marijuana, can sell marijuana. That's a drug dealer," Leidholt said.

Currently, 14 states and the District of Columbia have already legalized marijuana for medicinal purposes.

[Learn more about South Dakota ballot issues]

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