South Dakota to vote on medical marijuana
South Dakota could become the 15th state to legalize medical marijuana on Tuesday if voters agree with supporters that it's an issue of compassion.
A similar effort to allow patients suffering from a debilitating medical condition legal access to pot failed four years ago, receiving 48 percent of the vote.
Supporters of Initiated Measure 13 say those dealing with the pain and muscle spasms of multiple sclerosis or the nausea from cancer chemotherapy treatments should have access to something that could help them. Opponents argue the proposed law would lead to increased use of pot by those with no medical need.
South Dakota's proposal is more restrictive than laws in other states that have legalized marijuana for medical uses. It bans storefront dispensaries, and instead requires patients or their designated caregivers to cultivate and handle the marijuana. A caregiver would be limited to growing for no more than five patients.
The proposal would legalize marijuana to treat debilitating diseases such as cancer, glaucoma, HIV, AIDS, Lou Gehrig's disease and Alzheimer's, and conditions such as chronic pain, severe nausea or muscle spasms or seizures.
The state Health Department would issue registry cards, good for a year, to patients who get doctors to certify that they have medical needs that could be treated with marijuana. Qualified patients and their designated caregivers could not be arrested or prosecuted for having up to an ounce of pot.
The card holder or caregiver could have up to six marijuana plants, which would have to be kept in a locked place.
The law states that no more than one patient or caregiver could grow marijuana on the same property, unless the property is the primary residence for each of the cardholders.
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