|The South Dakota Highway Patrol isn’t officially allowed to interfere with elections. But they found a way around the rule.|
South Dakota’s medical marijuana initiative, Measure 13, is fending off a new foe: the state’s Highway Patrol.
The South Dakota Highway Patrol saved “news” about marijuana busts from the summer — supposedly related to “out of state medical marijuana” — to release two weeks before the election, Michael Whitney of JustSayNow.com told Toke of the Town on Wednesday.
“It certainly looks like the South Dakota Highway Patrol is interfering with the state’s medical marijuana ballot initiative,” Whitney told us Wednesday afternoon.
“Just Say Now is working with Measure 13’s campaign to fight back,” Whitney said.
Measure 13, which would legalize the medicinal use of cannabis in South Dakota for patients with a doctor’s authorization, is in a tight race going down to the wire on November 2.
|Michael Whitney, Just Say Now: “It certainly looks like the South Dakota Highway Patrol is interfering with the state’s medical marijuana ballot initiative”|
The Measure 13 campaign called out the Highway Patrol for a big media push last week around two separate marijuana busts from August that the Patrol attempted to tie to “out of state medical marijuana patients,” Whitney reports at JustSayNow.com.
The South Dakota Coalition for Compassion cried foul after the news release from the South Dakota Department of Public Safety. The coalition said the department released information about a 100-pound pot bust in Pennington County in August only to damage their campaign for the passage of Measure 13.
“The announcement by the (Highway Patrol) was self-evidently a political maneuver by bureaucrats who have a stake in stopping Measure 13,” said Tony Ryan, a retired police officer who works for the Coalition for Compassion.
“There’s no other reason to sit on two-month-old news and drop it two weeks before an election,” agreed Whitney. “While state agencies can’t openly engage in politics, the Patrol is in teh clear because it didn’t specifically mention the initiative.”
Emmett Reistroffer, head of the Coalition for Compassion, said the release is another example of law enforcement misrepresenting Measure 13. Reistroffer said the measure contains safeguards against abuses.
Law enforcement is just worried about losing the ability to seize assets in drug cases, and pharmacies are concerned about losing customers, according to Reistroffer.
When medical marijuana was last up for a vote in South Dakota, in 2006, it lost by just 15,000 votes. That was the only time a state medical marijuana initiative has ever been defeated at the polls in the United States.
What You Can Do
Just Say Now is organizing a petition to the South Dakota Highway Patrol to let voters decide on Measure 13: http://action.firedoglake.com/page/s/sdpolice
Just Say Now is also asking all medical cannabis supporters to donate to Measure 13’s underfunded campaign: https://donate.firedoglake.com/yeson13/contribute?rc=fw