Medical marijuana bill fails

January 27, 2005

Brad Perriello, Associated Press, Aberdeen News

PIERRE, S.D. - Marijuana should not be legalized for medical purposes in

South Dakota, legislators decided Friday.

The House Health Committee voted 11-1 against a bill that would have

allowed people with certain debilitating illnesses to use pot.

HB1109 would have given doctors permission to prescribe up to 5 ounces of

marijuana for those who suffer from such diseases as cancer, glaucoma and

AIDs, and for people with chronic pain, nausea or seizures.

Rep. Gerald Lange, D-Madison, said the bill provides a necessary

alternative for patients who do not get relief from traditional

medications.

"There are certain debilitating medical conditions that are rather

untreatable by contemporary medical practices," said Lange, prime sponsor

of the bill.

The measure would have required doctors to certify in writing that

patients suffer from qualifying diseases and explain the risks and

benefits of marijuana use to them. In addition, both doctors and patients

would have had to register with the Health Department.

Charlie McGuigan, an assistant state attorney general, urged legislators

to reject the bill. He said marijuana use would still be a federal crime

if the bill became state law.

Marijuana causes many adverse health effects, McGuigan said, adding that

the active ingredient in marijuana is currently available in prescription

form.

The state lawyer also said such a law would encourage illegal drug traffic

because people would need to buy it somewhere.

"Where is this marijuana going to come from?" he asked.

South Dakota lawmakers have rejected similar bills numerous times in

recent years.

The U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to consider a medical marijuana case

this summer.



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