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Medical Marijuana Bill Deferred To Allow More Testimony


State lawmakers heard statements on a bill allowing the use of medical marijuana in South Dakota. The measure is deferred until next week to allow for more testimony.


Proponents of Senate Bill 171 shared stories of chronic pain, migraines, seizures, illnesses, and disorders that they or their children experience on a daily basis. They say pharmaceuticals are ineffective, addictive, or damaging. Some say they’ve only found relief through using marijuana. Raina Parker has a disorder that causes her chronic pain.
“I beg you out of compassion to have consideration for people like me and people like others in this room who are disabled that really don’t have healthy options left to us,” Parker says. “I am human. I want to be a productive human being and I want to be a whole human being. And that’s an opportunity I do not have in the state of South Dakota right now.”
Members of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee heard opponent testimony from people representing law enforcement organizations, including the South Dakota Sheriff’s Association and the South Dakota Police Chief’s Association, among others. They say the bill hinders their ability to uphold the Constitution, since marijuana possession violates federal law.

Representative Leslie Heinemann, who has MS, spoke against the bill, saying marijuana is addictive and especially damaging for developing brains. He says the benefits do not outweigh the risk.
“The long-term effects of its users, the effects on our society, the abuse that has occurred, especially in increased use in our youth where states have legalized it,” Heinemann says. “They all tell me, the statistics tell me, as a licensed drug prescriber, as a brother of an epileptic, and as myself, that adopting Senate Bill 171 is not right for South Dakota.”
The bill is deferred until next week, when committee members will hear more testimony.