Knee-jerk reaction to medical marijuana

Let me start by saying I don't smoke marijuana and I have no plans to use marijuana.

Well, I shouldn't quite say that. In the future, I may need it to help with the pain cancer could cause, or maybe I might develop glaucoma.

But in South Dakota, this solution isn't possible because medical marijuana isn't legal in the state.

However, the voters can make it legal if they vote yes for Initiated Measure 13 on Tuesday.

I realize there are pros and cons of legalizing medical marijuana, but if it's done right, pot can be a very useful resource for the medical profession.

Medical marijuana hasn't been approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), but Francis L. Young, the administrative law judge for the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), ruled that evidence clearly shows marijuana has been accepted as capable of relieving the distress of great numbers of very ill people, and doing so with the safety under medical supervision.

Marijuana has been shown to help symptoms for diseases such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, glaucoma, HIV or AIDS and epilepsy and other disorders caused by seizures.

How does marijuana help with these diseases? Well it helps with severe muscle spasms, nausea and loss of appetite and spasticity.

These are all conditions that are commonly named on the list of approved conditions in the 14 states that allow medical marijuana. It's not very debatable how serious those conditions are.

These are some of the same conditions that South Dakota would put on its approved list.

I believe it is up to the medical profession to determine what conditions in South Dakota may be treated by medical marijuana. This is kind of the gray area for it.

California is the trailblazer when it comes to medical marijuana. It's the first state that legalized medical marijuana back in 1996 and 13 states followed suit, along with the District of Columbia.

However, it seems pretty easy for people to go and get the card that makes it possible to get medical marijuana in California. Two of the symptoms that are listed are migraines and chronic pain. Well, that's pretty loose right there and can easily cause an abuse in the system.

That's where it's up to the medical professionals in the state of South Dakota to make sure the right conditions are on the approved list. They need to make sure the right people who really would need medical marijuana are prescribed it, not just patients who want it for lesser reasons.

One of the problems being cited with the initiative is whether law enforcement be able to enforce the new law.

Vermillion Police Captain Chad Passick said in an article in the Yankton Press & Dakotan that there's a lot more red tape to cut through when considering whether we're looking at an enforceable offense.

But it is up to the law to determine how much medical marijuana a person can have on them. In each of the 14 states where medical marijuana is legal, the law says how much pot a person who is a card carrier can have on them.

This will be the same in South Dakota as patients can possess no more than one ounce of usable marijuana. So anything over that would be a violation. It's would also be against the law, if voters approve Initiated Measure 13 for citizens to sell medical marijuana or possess it if they don't have a prescription card for it.

Yes, it's more work for law enforcement, but after studying up on the reasons, there is no reason they can't enforce it the same way they enforce any law that would deal with the potential abuse of prescription drugs.

Medical marijuana isn't the legalization of pot. It doesn't allow pot smokers to just go out and make up a condition to get marijuana. It would be used for those that actually need it to help alleviate the symptoms of serious medical conditions that no one would ever wish to have.

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