The whole point of free speech is not to make ideas exempt from criticism but to expose them to it.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

If this is a political blog, let's talk practical politics...

What follows is an actual bill as it has twice been presented to a legislative committee (2002, 2009).

FOR AN ACT ENTITLED, An Act to allow a medical necessity to be used as a defense in certain cases involving the possession or use of marijuana.

Section 1. Any person arrested or prosecuted for the possession or use of marijuana may submit as a defense, a medical necessity, if:
(1) The person has a medical condition recognized by a competent medical authority as a condition for which marijuana is a palliative; or
(2) The person has a recommendation by a competent medical authority for the use of marijuana for a medical condition.

Section 2. A medical necessity defense pursuant to this Act may, at the discretion of the accused, include:
(1) Expert testimony;
(2) A recommendation by a competent medical authority; and
(3) Testimony by other persons with a similar medical condition.

In 2002, general consciousness was not sufficient to allow for much discussion. In 2009, we still had not paved the way sufficiently.

Currently, I think there is an excellent chance of obtaining credible support for this or a similar proposal. Intuitively, it is a winner. Most folks don't understand that you can not tell a jury that the cannabis you were arrested for is essential to your well-being. You are not allowed to present evidence that, for instance, your doctor agrees with you that cannabis allows you to eat while undergoing nausea-inducing chemotherapy, thus allowing you to maintain strength to fight off infection.

That is simply wrong. A legislator who disagrees with that is less than in tune with the whole principle on which our justice system is supposedly based. That legislator, in order to be consistent, would have to advocate prison for a hunter lost in a blizzard who jimmies a cabin door in order to avoid freezing to death.

As a political blog, we have the potential to influence South Dakota legislators to do the right thing. What do you think?


Jon said...

Bob, didn't Tom F.'s Doctor, Dr. Traub, testify in Meade County court that marijuana was essential to his patient's (Tom's) therapy/recovery?

Bob Newland said...

Yes, that's what happened.

Duffer said...

Credible support? Hmmm. Care to elaborate?

Reading the proposed legislation, it would appear out-of-state medical cards would have to be recognized.

Have you read Arizona's new law? Mucho bettah than what I saw in the SD proposal.

Bob Newland said...

Out-of-state medical cards would simply be allowed to be presented as evidence. A jury (or judge, if the accused prefers) would be able to weigh the card as part of the body of evidence.

Bob Newland said...

Good for AZ.

Duffer said...

. . . and good for those in SD for reference material should they choose to go forward again. The law before the voters this time was a worm can.

I don't see much potential for credible or popular support for the proposal, as simple as it seems, in this State at this time. The victors are still savoring their win, and I doubt in no mood for a conciliatory gesture. Just don't see it.

Jon said...

Bob, then why in your blog entry did you write:

"Most folks don't understand that you can not tell a jury that the cannabis you were arrested for is essential to your well-being."

Can't you tell a judge/jury anything you want, and then it's up to them to decide if its relevant or credible?