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LETTER: Brown County lawmaker says it's time to end cannabis prohibition in South Dakota
Sen. Mike Rohl, a first-term Republican serving District 1, continues to be an outspoken proponent of marijuana legalization.
Voters will have a lot of choices on Nov. 8. Among them is Initiated Measure 27.
IM-27 is the ballot measure to restore the vote of the people in 2020 by legalizing possession of small amounts of cannabis. Cannabis is currently legal for adults in all of Canada and 19 states in our country (plus our nation’s capital, Washington D.C.). Montana is currently the only state touching South Dakota with adult use being fully legalized, however, Minnesota’s legislature this year legalized cannabis in edible form. In addition to South Dakota, four other states will vote on full legalization this November, including our neighbor North Dakota. This doesn’t include the 326 Native American Reservations across the country, that are sovereign nations, and have the ability to sell adult use cannabis to both Native and Non-Native customers, a trend that is increasing each day.
Most IM-27 opponents would be happy to explain the dangers of cannabis while they drink their bottle of wine or scotch. They’ll explain that we can’t trust adults to keep it away from their own children.
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They’ll explain how it’s the governments job to protect people’s children at all costs. They’ll explain that the very people they represent aren’t responsible enough to make their own choices, and they need the righteous members of Government to tell parents the correct choice in their own home. They justify taking away your personal choice, in the name of protecting their own children, because they either don’t have trust or honest communication with their own kids.
Which leads me to the truth we all know but won’t say. We aren’t voting on whether or not we want cannabis in our communities – it’s already here and has been for a long time. We aren’t voting on whether we want adults to consume cannabis – the ones that want too already are. We aren’t voting on whether or not we want children to consume cannabis – it’s not allowed in either outcome.
We are voting on whether we want our cannabis to be tested, taxed and regulated, or if we want to continue having our citizens buying it illegally, or driving to neighboring states or reservations, while increasing our property tax rates to continue imprisoning the slim minority that actually get caught.
Prohibition of alcohol didn’t work either, it just created bootleggers and distrust between law enforcement and the people of their communities. We as a society need to understand the importance of teaching morality to our kids, but not legislating it. As a true Republican, the answer is clear to me: We should have less government telling folks how to live under threat of imprisonment, and more personal freedoms and individual responsibilities if you aren’t harming others with your choice.
If you really want to save our children, be honest with them and prepare them for life without you being there to make every decision for them. Banning “Happy Meals” won’t fix childhood obesity, and arresting adults for cannabis use hasn’t stopped youth from getting access to it. But creating a legal and controlled system will help limit their access to it. Drug dealers don’t ask for an ID to ensure your age. Dispensaries do. We already live with the negatives of cannabis use; we might as well enjoy the benefits while making it safer for those who do make the choice to use it responsibly instead of keeping our heads in the sand and continuing to fund the illegal market.
Live your life, not your neighbor’s life: Vote Yes on Initiated Measure 27.
Senator Mike Rohl