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State Medical Association Urges No Vote On Marijuana Ballot Questions

The South Dakota State Medical Association is opposing both cannabis ballot questions.

They’re crafting the opposition statement, which will get featured on the general election ballot.

The state medical association says voting no on the ballot questions maintains that marijuana is a hazardous drug and public health concern. They say the use of marijuana for medical purposes carries safety risks by circumventing the Food and Drug Administration approval process.

One ballot question legalizes medical marijuana. The other legalizes recreational marijuana and industrial hemp and places them in the state constitution.

Dr. Benjamin Aaker is the president of the state medical association.

“There is the recreational side of things with all the risks to the use of that and dangers to the reaction time going down,” Aaker says. “Then, there’s the medical side of things. If you’re looking to have medical marijuana , then you really ought to think about the research that’s been done and does that research tell us that this drug is beneficial, but also has low side effects. We don’t think that it meets those two criteria.”

Aaker says there are already FDA approved options for patients seeking out treatment with marijuana related compounds.

Marijuana is considered a schedule I drug by the federal government. Eleven states and the district of Columbia have legalized small amounts of marijuana for recreational use. The number of states legalizing for medical use is much higher.

Melissa Mentele is the president of New Approach South Dakota, which is sponsoring Initiated Measure 26. Mentele says it’s sad the SDSMA opposes the medical marijuana ballot question. She says medical marijuana programs across the country are well received in the 33 states that have legalized it.

“On a policy that has not been repealed, or attempted to be repealed in any of those states,” Mentele says. “It’s working quite efficiently. It would give our doctors in our state a tool in our toolbox to help treat our most sick patients.”

Mentele says a no vote on initiated measure 26 will ensure suffering and sick patients remain criminals in the state.

Lee Strubinger is SDPB’s Rapid City-based news and political reporter. A former reporter for Fort Lupton Press (CO) and Colorado Public Radio, Lee holds a master’s in public affairs reporting from the University of Illinois-Springfield.
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