Newland note: The following was sent to me by Emmett Reistroffer.
Measure 13 is the nation’s most restrictive medical marijuana proposal, led by a grassroots coalition of citizens
By Emmett Reistroffer
The Labor Day edition of the Argus Leader published a pair of stories [first story, second story] outlining the political climate which surrounds most of the medical marijuana debate and prospects for Initiated Measure 13. I haven't pursued personal blogging much since taking on my role with the Coalition for Compassion a little over a year ago, but after reading quotes from our opponents in today's publication I feel compelled to refute the false claims and misguided rhetoric.
The Coalition for Compassion is led by Patrick K. Lynch the former chairman of the Multiple Scleroses Society and Tony Ryan, a retired lieutenant of the Denver Police Dept. The Coalition collected twice as many signatures as the state requires for a ballot initiative for 2010 - and with such success our grassroots network of volunteers has expanded to an impressive organization of doctors, nurses, current and former law-enforcement officials, and average South Dakotans from every political background, religion, and occupation who are united by a common cause of compassion and empathy for our loved ones living with painful and debilitating illnesses. My grandmother successfully and safely eased nausea and wasting syndrome during chemo-/radiation therapy with medical marijuana, a therapeutic option that is so effective it is often recommended by South Dakota doctors even while it remains illegal.
Measure 13 offers South Dakota a strictly controlled program to handle the need for this type of therapy. Patients and caregivers will be registered with the department of health. IM13 has several explicitly detailed restrictions which make obtaining a recommendation for medical marijuana more difficult then it would be for a patient to obtain many common prescription painkillers.
In a previous AP news article Art Mabry, Vermillion Police Chief, calls the Coalition for Compassion a 'scam' and in today's article he opposes our measure with a somewhat more specific message: "It would create a black market for unused marijuana and it will increase the danger of drugged driving.. I'm curious about what a caregiver does with plants that don't sell." These statements clearly indicate that Mabry hasn't even taken the time to analyze the initiative which is so concerning for him and his fleet of college-town cops.
1. Measure 13 strictly prohibits any sale of marijuana.
2. Driving under the influence is also strictly prohibited.
There is a longer list of rules and regulations, even a requirement that each patient complete a re-evaluation every six months.
I don't think I'm alone on this one, but considering the logistics of our proposal, there is little logic in Mabry's vision of marijuana magically falling from the clouds and some how winding up in everyone's backyard. Denial that marijuana isn't already an easily available drug for anyone who desires to get their hands on it and use for leisure or any other reason is complete ignorance. Simply put, marijuana is around. If you can't connect the dots Chief, then maybe you should swing by campus for intro to economics because where there is demand, there is supply. Whether it is alcohol sold underground by the mafia in the 1920s, beer being sold by bartenders now, or coffee being sold at Starbucks.. When there is a product that people want, there is someone around to sell it.
So, while some choose to use marijuana for leisurely reasons (distasteful, yes) there is a market that exists for them. The arguments of medical marijuana creating some new substance out of thin air is used and tried, let’s have some common sense about what we’re talking about here, a natural plant on God’s green earth. The difference between marijuana on the streets and medical marijuana is that the legal, doctor-recommended marijuana is cultivated with every precaution the patient deserves. Safety and control is applied to medical marijuana while black market marijuana continues to be readily available to anyone who wants it without any oversight or control. And again, our proposal does not include any type of sale. IM13 is a not-for-profit, simple, yet strictly controlled approach for patients to have a safe, legal option as an alternative to the black market. Lynch, Ryan, the 100+ nurses in SD, myself and the rest of the Coalition are not looking to get rich.. If that was our interest, there is an abundance of lucrative career opportunities in the marijuana market, and there are no taxes involved either!
What we are proposing is not to 'create' any market for marijuana as Mabry foresees. With plain rationality, we are simply asking that people like my grandmother, who took 2 puffs of marijuana and ate her first full meal during cancer treatment, have a safe, legal, option to pursue so they don't have to resort to the already existing black market.. Which is often dangerous, and has absolutely no standards for safety or quality and ultimately degrades the sick persons’ dignity and puts their whole family through anxiety while risking criminal repercussions.
When a licensed physician with whom a patient has an established relationship recommends a scientifically supported therapy by which the patient can find relief from their symptoms, no state law should stand as a barrier. Measure 13 will set a good example for the rest of the nation and will safely protect the many patients in SD who are and will benefit from the medical use of marijuana.
The Coalition for Compassion and our allies are ready to stand strong for what we're proposing; we are united by a high-held virtue of compassion: our campaign for IM13 is an honest, sincere effort to extend compassion to the most vulnerable people among us.
Rhetoric and false claims will not appeal to voters in 2010.
Board members for the Coalition for Compassion are meeting this week to prepare an open invitation to debate IM13 with anyone who opposes the measure.
Today, however, I'm personally extending an invitation to Mr. Mabry to sit down with the Coalition so we can go over the facts. Perhaps a town-hall style discussion or a head-to-head debate, accept this invitation in whichever way you would like. One thing is for sure, the nearly 33,000 South Dakotans who signed the petition and the many more thousands of citizens around the state who have loved ones suffering from cancer or other illnesses are not going to let your crude attempts belittle our cause or go without notice.
Let South Dakota doctors and patients decide!
Vote YES for Compassion, YES on 13!
I encourage everyone affected by any of these illnesses or anyone who has compassion for the sick and dying to join our growing Coalition at our website: SDCompassion.org