South Dakota Bills would Legalize Medical Marijuana, Foundation to Thwart Federal Prohibition in Effect

RAPID CITY, S.D. (Mar. 1, 2016) – Two South Dakota Senate bills would legalize medical marijuana in the state, effectively blocking the deplorable federal prohibition of cannabis.

Senate Bill 167 (SB167) was introduced by Sen. Angie O’Donnell (D-Sioux Falls) and two bipartisan co-sponsors, while Senate Bill 171 (SB171) was introduced by the Senate Health and Human Services Committee. These bills would set up a state regulatory regime allowing medical marijuana to make its way into the hands of the sick.

SB167 contains a simple declaration stating that “the compassionate use of medical cannabis is permitted and the use shall be regulated.”

SB171 would permit South Dakota residents complying under the regulatory framework set up by the bill to do the following:

"(1) Purchase or otherwise acquire cannabis from cultivation facility, or a cannabis product or cannabis from a cannabis product manufacturing facility;
(2) Possess, produce, process, manufacture, compound, convert, prepare, pack, repack, and store cannabis or a cannabis product;
(3) Deliver, transfer, or transport cannabis, a cannabis product, cannabis paraphernalia, or related supplies or educational materials to a dispensary or cannabis product manufacturing facility;
(4) Deliver, transfer, or transport cannabis to a testing facility and compensate a testing facility for services provided; or
(5) Deliver, sell, supply, transfer, or transport cannabis, a cannabis product, cannabis paraphernalia, or related supplies or educational materials to a cannabis product manufacturing facility or dispensary."

Under SB171, patients would qualify to use medical marijuana if they suffered from AIDS, HIV, anorexia, arthritis, endometriosis, cachexia or wasting disease, cancer, glaucoma, hepatitis C, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, multiple sclerosis, reflex sympathetic dystrophy, Crohn’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, continuous muscle spasms, epilepsy or seizures, severe nausea, debilitating pain, post traumatic stress disorder, and the treatment of the aforementioned diseases and conditions. Other conditions may qualify under the discretion of state regulators. Dispensaries would be legalized to distribute medical marijuana under the bill as well.

Despite federal marijuana prohibition, measures such as SB167 and SB171 remain perfectly lawful, and there is little if anything the feds can do to stop them in practice.

EFFECT ON FEDERAL PROHIBITION

Passage of these bills would partially remove one layer of law prohibiting the possession and use of marijuana in South Dakota, but federal prohibition would remain in place.

Of course, the federal government lacks any legitimate authority to ban or regulate marijuana within the borders of a state, despite the opinion of the politically connected lawyers on the Supreme Court. If you doubt this, ask yourself why it took a constitutional amendment to institute federal alcohol prohibition.

While this South Dakota bills would not alter federal law, they would take a step toward blocking in effect the federal ban. FBI statistics show that law enforcement makes approximately 99 of 100 marijuana arrests under state, not federal law. By easing the state laws, the South Dakota legislature would remove some of the basis for 99 percent of marijuana arrests.

Furthermore, figures indicate it would take 40 percent of the DEA’s yearly-budget just to investigate and raid all of the dispensaries in Los Angeles – a single city in a single state. That does not include the cost of prosecution. The lesson? The feds lack the resources to enforce marijuana prohibition without state assistance.

If the South Dakota legislature passes SB167 or SB171, the Mount Rushmore State would join a growing number of states simply ignoring federal prohibition. Colorado, Washington state and Alaska have all legalized both recreational and medical marijuana, and 23 states now allow cannabis for medical use. With nearly half the country legalizing marijuana, the feds find themselves in a position where they simply can’t enforce prohibition any more. The feds need state cooperation to fight the “drug war,” and that has rapidly evaporated in the last few years with state legalization, practically ending the ban.

“The lesson here is pretty straight forward. When enough people say, ‘No!’ to the federal government, and enough states pass laws backing those people up, there’s not much the feds can do to shove their so-called laws, regulations or mandates down our throats,” policy analyst Michael Boldin said.

NEXT UP

SB167 and SB171 must pass the Senate Health & Provider Services Committee before they can receive votes in the full Senate.