Marijuana – To Legalize or Not?

RAPID CITY, S.D. — With the decision to legalize medical marijuana being just weeks away, an open forum for those opposed to the bill as well as those in favor of the bill were brought together at the Best Western Ramkota on Lacrosse Street.

Adapting the guidelines of a debate, invited parties stated their opposing views on passing the Initiated Measure 26 Bill. South Dakota voters will have an opportunity to vote on marijuana twice this year, one time as it pertains to recreational use and another for medicinal needs. IM26 and Amendment A have been divisive topics and the subject of much criticism.

“I believe that if this bill passed and if it remained in the form that it is that it would fundamentally create a circumstance where it was impossible to prosecute even the recreational use of marijuana,” said Pennington County State’s Attorney, Mark Vargo.

He says law enforcement would walk a thin line deciphering whether an individual is a legitimate user or one taking advantage of the new laws, causing confusion.

For others who are in favor of the bill, like Executive Director of New Approach South Dakota, Melissa Mentele, the good outweighs what she calls a narrative of fear-mongering. She says there are strong stipulations in place to prevent abusing the bill.

“In South Dakota this legalization of IM26 is not a free for all. There are still numerous safeguards that are in place for not only to protect the public but to protect our roadways and our landlords and our tenant relationships, businesses and employers. 26 is a bill for patients,” said Mentele.

She says a conversation about reform is long overdue. All residents must be registered to vote in order to cast their ballots for or against IM26 and Amendment A.

The deadline to register to vote is Monday, October 19.

Categories: Cannabis Legislation, Local News, South Dakota News