We believe you want what is best for the majority of South Dakotans. We do, too.
That said, we see no benefit in punishing people with criminal laws and prosecution for using cannabis (“marijuana” is the legal term, a slang term chosen from the vernacular for its sinister sound). Further, we see a great deal of harm being done –to the majority of South Dakotans as well as to those directly affected by arrest and prosecution– to no apparent purpose.
Current laws regarding cannabis achieve several effects, none of them beneficial.
1. The prices users pay for cannabis is inflated roughly 1700 per cent by the “risk” factor involved in producing, transporting and marketing the product. This benefits the most vicious people on Earth, while making the distribution of the product completely ungovernable.
2. Distribution of cannabis to minors is therefore inevitable. A legal market in cannabis among adults could allow regulations making it more difficult for children to obtain it. The current system guarantees the opposite.
3. The benefit of cannabis to a wide age of people with a wide range of adverse medical conditions is apparent. While cannabis is easily obtained by healthy, active people, it is much harder for a person in a wheelchair to make the contacts necessary to obtain what might be life-sustaining aid from cannabis. One intense irony of current policy is that it denies access to cannabis most efficiently to those whom are most in need of its benefits.
We believe, for these and other reasons, that it goes counter to any interpretation of sound public policy to maintain criminal punishments for anyone for ingestion of cannabis. We believe that adults have the inherent right to ingest cannabis (or anything else they want to ingest). We believe that those accused of possession of “marijuana” should have the right to present evidence of medical use in court and to have juries determine justice from the evidence. We believe that any steps in the direction of improving South Dakota law along these lines is a step in the right direction and we will vigorously support legislators who undertake those steps.
“We” are SoDakNORML, the South Dakota Affiliate of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. We are comprised of thousands of South Dakotans arrested, prosecuted, imprisoned, frightened, amused, angered, or marginalized as a result of cannabis Prohibition, a policy so absurd in its derivation and results that it defies characterization.
On behalf of any of the folks described above who want to endorse these sentiments, I am
P.S. Please read the essay on the politics of cannabis at the following website:http://hemphasis.net/Politics/politics.htm (the capital P is important).
Jesse Grimm, combat veteran, Hot Springs