By: Austin Kaus, The Daily Republic
Emmett Reistroffer said he has personally witnessed the healing power of marijuana.
As a 10-year-old, he watched as his grandmother wasted away from chemotherapy treatments. Sitting behind a table in a tent Wednesday at Dakotafest in Mitchell, Reistroffer said the family’s difficult decision to obtain marijuana for his ailing grandmother turned out well.
“She kept losing weight. They didn’t think she was going to live another year,” Reistroffer said. “We found some (marijuana), gave it to my grandmother and, for the first time in her therapy, she gained weight. I sincerely believe it prolonged her life.”
Reistroffer manned a table at Dakotafest this week to tell his story and drum up support for Initiative 13, an initiated measure facing voters this November that, if passed, would allow patients with debilitating medical conditions to possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana, provided they have signed certification by their physician. If the measure passes, patients or designated caregivers would be allowed to cultivate up to six marijuana plants.
Reistroffer said most of the people who came to his table were either in support of or, at the very least, willing to hear out his argument for legalizing the medicinal use of marijuana.
He’s especially encouraged by the people who have stopped to tell their personal experiences with the use of marijuana as medicine.
“It’s a hard topic to talk about for a lot of people,” Reistroffer said. “They know they broke the law when they did it, but it’s what they had to do to find relief.”
“I think the compassion aspect of this is what’s driving our campaign, and that’s what South Dakotans relate to,” Reistroffer said. “South Dakotans are generally compassionate for the sick and dying. They just need to understand the logistics of the issue, so that’s what we’re working hard to do.”
This isn’t the first time an initiative like this has been proposed to South Dakota voters. In 2006, voters rejected the legalization of medical marijuana by 52 percent to 48 percent, earning the state, according to Reistroffer, the “record of being the only state that has ever rejected a medical marijuana proposal.”
But that doesn’t discourage Reistroffer. After Dakotafest, he will continue appearing at fairs and other gatherings to spread the message that, he hopes, will lead to an election-night victory in November.
“People are coming together from all different backgrounds for this,” Reistroffer said. “It’s because illness breaks every demographic.”