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CHRISTENSON: We do have to get this right
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CHRISTENSON: We do have to get this right

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alan christenson

Alan Christenson

This is primarily in response to “We have to get this right” by Tim Goodwin as appeared in the Journal 6/2/21. While I happen to agree with him, I’m sure his version of “right” is different from mine.

Mr. Goodwin persists in thinking that there were three separate subjects in Amendment A: hemp, medicinal marijuana, and recreational marijuana. He doesn’t tell you they are all cannabis and that was what Amendment A was all about.

• Hemp, a non-THC version of the cannabis plant that has a number of uses: food, textiles, paper, fabric, etc. And Mr. Goodwin is correct … hemp was previously approved, but the legislature (of which Mr. Goodwin was a part) failed to create the regulations to enable SD farmers to begin planting, growing, harvesting and producing hemp, getting it to market and dollars into the pockets of farmers. Amendment A addressed the timeline for providing the regulations the legislature should have already done if they were sincerely concerned.

• Medicinal Cannabis, to recognize in the Constitution (via Amendment reference), so that people suffering from a variety of conditions have another alternative for treatment and alleviating pain.

• Recreational, Adult Use Cannabis is available to adults in South Dakota and provision for taxation is provided in the Amendment, along with provision for term definition and clarification where state control existed.

Amendment A dealt with Cannabis. They were drafted to provide a win-win approach for the voting public AND the state of South Dakota. Studies have shown that when states provide for recreational and medicinal cannabis, the black market for cannabis is significantly impacted, cannabis use among students is reduced, and the states see significant increases in taxes to use to help fund a variety of causes, chief among them Public Education.

The “right” I seek, and the drafters of Amendment A and IM 26 sought, was NOT the direction on the political spectrum, but providing what we voted for, without the legislature “messing” with it to water it down to minimally provide what they are willing to allow. Listen legislators …. 54% voted FOR Amendment A, 70+% voted FOR Medicinal Cannabis. We didn’t vote for you all to twist and tweak those ballot items.

Mr. Goodwin also touts an alternative to Cannabis for medicinal purposes: Marinol. Of course, there are a few things he doesn’t mention with respect to Marinol.

• A person using Marinol would test positive for THC just as a person using Marijuana. The test to determine the difference between the two is expensive and unlikely to be used in any municipality in SD.

• Marinol has a variety of possible side effects:

o Common – Acute confusion, mood changes, drowsiness, disturbance in thinking, difficulty in concentration, hallucinations, nausea, vomiting, abdominal craps, euphoria.

o Less common – fainting, irregular heartbeat, trouble breathing, rash, severe dizziness, severe headache, changes in blood pressure, etc.

Cannabis is a plant, it is natural. It has been used for centuries for treatment of a variety of maladies, Including in the United States until the 30’s. It was outlawed primarily for two reasons;

• In the southwestern states, it was outlawed because of racial prejudice against the Mexican’s who used it.

• In the other states, it was outlawed because of the fear that heroin use would lead to the use of marijuana (exactly the opposite of today’s fear on “gateway” drugs).

Mr. Goodwin goes to great length to describe the legislative process: clearly, any bill for Cannabis would never make it past the first step here in SD, because the legislature doesn’t favor it. Mr. Goodwin doesn’t tell you that in SD, the legislature draws the electoral district boundaries and engages heavily in “gerrymandering”. This is where the legislators pick their voters, instead of a system where voters pick their legislators. A short sentence with an enormous impact to the state and every voter in that state. But that topic is for another time.

So South Dakota is gathering a group of people who mostly know nothing about Cannabis, and is choosing to ignore lessons learned from other states that have successfully implemented Medical and Recreational Cannabis. Rather than start from experience, we seem to be in the mindset of starting from scratch, spending more money than necessary, and “let’s throw out anything we wouldn’t have included”. Again … legislators are telling the public to “leave the details to us, and just obey the laws and legislation we decide to enact.” This is NOT the “representative democracy” that the founders had in mind.

I think voters in South Dakota are getting tired of that system. We read, we listened, we learned, and we voted. Amendment A and IM 26 is what we wanted. Don’t mess with it. Listen to your voters.

Alan Christenson is a semi-retired accountant and photographer, politically moderate, with a low tolerance for hypocrisy and dishonesty.  Originally from East River (Aberdeen), now in Rapid City by way of Colorado and California.”

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