Monday, January 14, 2013
Appeal for supporty from NORML in South Dakota
Just in from NORML South Dakota:
We can't MAKE you care…
…but we think you MIGHT care, and then do something to help, if we can make ourselves heard above everything else that wants your attention today.
The issue is tough. We want to change a South Dakota law because it's the right thing to do. It's passage probably won't mean more than a few hundred dollars one way or another to taxpayers. Laws rarely get passed just because it is the right thing to do.
Politicians get laws passed by claiming their passage is the right thing to do. What they usually mean is that passage of this law will point money in the direction of somebody the politician wants or "needs" to help.
Another thing that makes it tough is that its passage will probably benefit only a couple of dozen people a year.
Potential use of the Medical Necessity Act is limited to about 2800 people who will be convicted of cannabis possession or possession of paraphernalia in South Dakota in 2013.
We don't know how many of that 2800 will be able to present evidence that they use cannabis medically. We don't know how many will want to go to the trouble, if they can just pay a few hundred dollars, take a plea, and get on with life. We don't know how many cases would simply disappear if the potential to use medical necessity is there.
We would be surprised to see more than, say, three dozen cases among that 2800 where a "medical necessity defense" is contested by the state throughout a prosecution, to the point of trial. Presenting plausible evidence in a trial is both expensive and chancy. 2760 of those 2800 convictions will be obtained by trial or plea bargain. Nothing will have been changed by the Medical Necessity Defense for them.
So, we're guessing that about 36 people out of 8000 total possession arrests in 2013 in South Dakota will have evidence that they want to take to trial that they use cannabis as a medical necessity.
That's not a very large constituency. Even if some of these people would suffer significantly if they were unable to use cannabis, all a politician can say about this bill is, "It's the right thing to do." There is no lobbyist telling any South Dakota politician that passage of the Medical Necessity Defense will result in some campaign funding and that it will provide jobs or revenue.
Yet, Rep. Kaiser and Sen. Tieszen are willing to sponsor this bill. You can help. You can thank them for their willingness to stand up for what's right.
You can send a message to your legislators (most of you have three). You can do this by following directions at http://sodaknorml.org/2013necessityact.htm#legemail (read the left column when you get there).
You can ask your acquaintances who use cannabis medically to get hold of us. You can let us know of medical professionals in So. Dak. who agree with us. You need to do this in the next few days.
It will be a shame if we miss this chance to alleviate fear of punishment for those cannabis patients who have the misfortune of being arrested.
Bob Newland for SoDakNORML