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Medical Marijuana Qualifies for Nov. Ballot in South Dakota

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PIERRE, So. Dakota — In November 2010, South Dakotans will once again have the opportunity to make the medical use of marijuana legal in the state. The South Dakota Coalition for Compassion, a nonprofit group composed of physicians, patients, law enforcement officials and private citizens, received word from the Secretary of State this week that “Measure 13” had qualified for the ballot. The campaign submitted close to 32,000 signatures last month. They needed just 16,776 valid signatures to qualify.

South Dakotans voted on a similar initiative in 2006, with the measure narrowly failing by a 52% to 48% margin. This year’s “South Dakota Safe Access Act” is sponsored by Patrick K. Lynch, former chairman of the board for the North Central States Chapter of the Multiple Sclerosis Society, and was drafted with the assistance of the Marijuana Policy Project.

“We are excited that South Dakota voters will have another opportunity to make the medical use of marijuana legal for patients in the state,” said Steve Fox, director of state campaigns for the Marijuana Policy Project. “Given the increasing level of support for medical marijuana across the country over the past few years, we are fully confident that a solid majority of voters in the state will support patients’ rights this November.”

The initiative, if passed into law, would allow medical marijuana cardholders to possess up to one ounce of marijuana if they have been diagnosed with or are undergoing treatment for certain cancers, glaucoma, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, seizures or multiple sclerosis, along with other specifically diagnosable ailments. The initiative outlines specific disabilities that qualify patients for use, rules regarding registration cards, distribution, and rules for establishing a registry for medical marijuana users.

The entire initiative can be read at http://www.sdcompassion.org/sdsaa.htm

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