PIERRE, SD - A Hermosa man who supported an unsuccessful attempt to legalize industrial hemp in 2002 said last week he is preparing a ballot initiative to allow medical marijuana in South Dakota.
Robert Newland, who also ran for attorney general as a Libertarian candidate in 2002, said Montana voters in November legalized marijuana for medical uses.
"When I saw that Montana did it, I decided to start a campaign in South Dakota," Newland said. "There is no question we can get the signatures in fairly short order. The fact is, medical use has never failed on an initiative."
Newland can expect strong opposition from Attorney General Larry Long's office if his proposal reaches the ballot. A spokesman for Long said the office's position is contained in statements made at the House hearing by Charles McGuigan, an assistant attorney general.
"We are in opposition to any plan to legalize marijuana in any form, whether it is medical marijuana or industrial hemp or any other concoction that would give credence to this substance,'' McGuigan said.
Ten states have some form of medical marijuana laws now. California's law is being challenged in a U.S. Supreme Court case. Other states with such laws are Alaska, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont and Washington. Arizona also has a law permitting marijuana prescriptions but no active program.