South Dakota Cultivates Medical Marijuana Defense

South Dakota Cultivates Medical Marijuana Defense

“All they can do is defend themselves in court,” said Sen. Tieszen. ”They can bring their experts, they can show their disease or illness, and let the judge and jury decide.”

A forward thinking group of South Dakota’s bi-partisan lawmakers, in addition to a former police chief, introduced a bill Monday that would allow a medical marijuana defense for anyone arrested for possession of up to two ounces of marijuana in their state.

The medical marijuana in the defense bill is sponsored by Representatives Dan Kaiser (R), Elizabeth May (R), Betty Olson (R) and Senators Stanford Adelstein (R), Jim Bradford (D), Jason Frerichs (D) and Larry Tidemann (R).

As a matter of procedural order the bill was first introduced in the House of representatives before being passed on to the South Dakota Committee on Health and Human Services.

While only a minor step in the right direction, the intent of the proposed bill, HB 1227, is not to legalize medical marijuana or allow MMJ collectives in the state. Rather the intent of the bill would simply allow those arrested to use medical necessity as a defense in the court.

“All they can do is defend themselves in court,” said Sen. Tieszen. ”They can bring their experts, they can show their disease or illness, and let the judge and jury decide.”

Rep. Kaiser, the former Rapid City police chief, stressed that marijuana still would be confiscated at the time of arrest and the person in possession would be booked on criminal charges.

State Attorney General Marty Jackley opposes the medical necessity defense.

“A medical necessity defense will in reality go a long way toward legalizing marijuana by making it more difficult to enforce marijuana laws and require a medical examination and expensive battle of experts with taxpayer money in too many instances,” Jackley said.

South Dakota voters failed to approve two separate medical marijuana ballot initiatives in 2006 and 2010.