After I watched a judge tell a jury in Sioux Falls that it was illegal for a person to attempt to prevent himself from drowning without having first purchased an expensive government-licensed flotation device, I stayed in touch with Matthew. He lived in his mother’s house in Eagle Butte until his death in 2005.
In 2003, Sen. Tom Hennies, formerly the Rapid City SD Chief of Police, chaired a committee tasked with reviewing and revising the So. Dak. criminal code. Meeting in August, the comittee consisted of several legislators and the former Public Defender in Minnehaha Co., Dave Nelson, along with a circuit judge, Tim Dallas Tucker, from Watertown or Aberdeen or somewhere up there in the outer provinces.
Hennies invited me to come and present evidence and a recommendation for revision of law to accommodate medical marijuana users. He gave me about two hours of the committee’s time. I asked Mike Gray, the author of DRUG CRAZY and the man who wrote the screenplay for THE CHINA SYNDROME to come and talk about his research for the book DRUG CRAZY.
I also asked Matt Ducheneaux to come. He asked a friend to help him get there from Eagle Butte (Matt was quadriplegic). He spoke to the committee for about 20 minutes, describing his condition, his history with the DEA, and what happens when he doesn’t have access to cannabis.
“I have muscular contractions in my back and chest. It feels like an anaconda is around me, squeezing the air out of me, while somebody is using an axe on my spine. If I have some marijuana and someone can help smoke some, just a little bit, a puff or two, and the contractions go away.”
Hennies truly knew that cannabis helped people like Matt. However, he paid more deference to the law than to common sense. He wasn’t ready to acknowledge that everything about prohibition is ludicrous. He couldn’t bridge the state/federal “conflict” gap.
He asked Ducheneaux how he thought they could legalize cannabis for some but leave it illegal for others. Ducheneaux said, “Why would you want to do that?”
Then Hennies kinda polled the committee, many of whom were avoiding looking at Ducheneaux. Amazingly to me, Dave Nelson, the former Public Defender, more or less led the oppsition to helping out folks like Matt. “The legislature has already looked at that question. They’ve made it plain they’re not interested.”
Judge Tucker said, “That’s right. Besides that, it would be a burden on the courts.”
That's right. A circuit court judge said it would be a burden for So. Dak. courts to administer justice. Now you know.