South Dakota

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director February 25, 2010

    Lawmakers around the country are debating a record number of marijuana law reform bills in 2010. NORML’s Weekly Legislative Round Up is your one-stop guide to pending marijuana law reform legislation around the country, along with tips for influencing the policies of your state.

    ** A note to first time readers: NORML can not introduce legislation in your state. Nor can any other non-profit advocacy organization. Only your state representatives, or in some cases an individual constituent (by way of their representative; this is known as introducing legislation ‘by request’) can do so. NORML can — and does — work closely with like-minded politicians and citizens to reform marijuana laws, and lobbies on behalf of these efforts. But ultimately the most effective way — and the only way — to successfully achieve statewide marijuana law reform is for local stakeholders and citizens to become involved in the political process and make the changes they want to see. We can’t do it without you.

    Massachusetts: On Tuesday, March 2, members of the Joint Committee on the Judiciary will hear testimony in favor of Senate Bill 1801, which seeks to legally regulate the commercial production and distribution of marijuana for adults over 21 years of age. The hearing is scheduled for 1:00pm in room A-1 of the Massachusetts State House. You can read NORML’s written testimony to the Committee here. You can also watch video of NORML representatives previously testifying in favor of this measure before lawmakers here. For information on attending next week’s hearing please visit here, or to contact the Committee, please go here.

    Washington, DC: Members of the DC City Council’s Committee on Health this week held their first hearing on implementing the District’s new medical marijuana law. Council members heard several hours of testimony regarding B 18-622, the Legalization of Marijuana for Medical Treatment Initiative Amendment Act 0f 2010, which seeks to implement local regulations regarding the medical use and distribution of medical marijuana to qualified patients. Representatives from NORML testified on behalf of the measure, which is expected to be enacted by the Council by May of this year. If approved by the Council, Congress has 30 days to either approve or reject the measure. More information about this measure is available from NORML’s ‘Take Action Center’ here.

    South Dakota: Representatives of the South Dakota Coalition for Compassion this week turned in nearly twice the required number of signatures necessary to place a medical marijuana legalization initiative on the November 2010 statewide ballot. You can read the text of the measure here, or become involved in the campaign by going here. NORML will begin reporting more in depth about this effort once the measure has been certified by the state to appear on the 2010 ballot.

    Hawaii: Members of the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Government Operations heard testimony today in favor of SB 2450, which seeks to reduce minor marijuana possession penalties from a criminal misdemeanor, punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $1000 fine, to a civil infraction punishable by a fine only. You can read NORML’s written testimony in support of the measure, which is co-sponsored by 19 of Hawaii’s 25 Senators, here.

    Maryland: On Friday, February 26, at 1:00pm the House Committee of Health and Government Operations and the House Committee of the Judiciary will jointly hear testimony regarding several legislative proposals that seek to legalize the use, production, and distribution of medical marijuana. NORML representatives will be in attendance and testifying at tomorrow’s hearing.

    New York: On Tuesday, members of the Senate Health Committee passed S. 4041, which seeks to allow state-qualified patients to possess up to 2.5 ounces of medical marijuana for therapeutic purposes. To learn more about S. 4041 and/or its Assembly companion bill, please visit NORML’s ‘Take Action Center’ here.

    For information on additional state and federal marijuana law reform legislation, please visit NORML’s ‘Take Action Center’ here.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director January 29, 2010

    As a general rule, NORML tends not to publicize or comment on ballot initiative drives — including campaigns we are involved in — until they have officially qualified for the ballot. But in this case, we (and the mainstream media) just couldn’t resist.

    Pot Measure One Step Closer to California Ballot
    via CBS.com

    An initiative to make marijuana legal, and open to local taxation and regulation, is one step closer to getting on the California ballot this November.

    Backers of the initiative on Thursday turned in nearly 700,000 signatures to state officials to place the measure on the state ballot, according to reports — far more than the 433,971 valid signatures required. California Secretary of State Debra Bowen has until June 24 to certify the initiative, the Sacramento Bee reports.

    The measure, if approved by voters, would allow anyone over 21 years old to possess up to an ounce of marijuana or grow plants within a limited space for personal use. It would also allow local jurisdictions to tax and regulate it.

    [Author’s Note: There is a clause in the initiative that allows for municipalities, if they desire to do so, to establish regulations governing the retail distribution and sale of cannabis. Personal, non-commercial possess or cultivation of marijuana would not be subject to taxation under this initiative.]

    … An April Field Poll found that 56 percent of California voters supported legalizing marijuana, and Mark DiCamillo, the poll’s director, said the initiative had a 50 percent chance of passing, the Los Angeles Times reports.

    Next week, proponents of a statewide measure to legalize medical marijuana in South Dakota will also turn in signatures to the Secretary of State’s office to place the proposal on the November 2010 ballot. Petitioners claim that they possess nearly twice the number of signatures necessary to qualify for the ballot.

    Separate ballot drives are under way in several other states, including Washington and Oregon.

  • by Allen St. Pierre, Former NORML Executive Director July 29, 2009

    Here is an update from South Dakota where the judge who placed a one year gag order on South Dakota NORML’s Bob Newland not to publicly advocate for cannabis law reform whilst on probation for a minor cannabis offense has had to defend his sentencing and constitutionally-questionable limitations on Mr. Newland’s First Amendment rights to free speech; the right to peaceably assemble; petition the government for a redress of grievances.

    To place this into sharper political context, in their first attempt two years ago, South Dakotan voters narrowly defeated a pro-medical cannabis initiative, 51%-49%.

    Therefore, placing First Amendment restrictions on the state’s most vocal and notable cannabis law reform advocate for a minor cannabis offense sets a wretched legal precedent for personal freedom and political organizing in South Dakota.

    To make matters worse, now an anti-drug state senator is gratuitously misleading the public by claiming that medical cannabis advocates in South Dakota are disingenuous:

    “Judge Delaney was absolutely correct. To characterize Newland as an advocate for the legalization of marijuana for MEDICAL purposes is untrue. He is only interested in making marijuana available for his friends and others for recreational purposes, and perhaps financial gain.”

    The voters of South Dakota need to run another pro-cannabis law reform initiative and pass it ASAP, making politicos like Adelstein and Judge Delaney eat crow—like hundreds of other politicos since the early 1990s who’ve opposed cannabis law reform, only to see voter-driven initiatives wash over them, and their opposition to these important–and popular–public law reforms.


    28 July 2009

    Hello everyone,

    I write today to tell a tale of an execrable and gratuitous lie told by SD State Senator Stanford Adelstein.

    First, on Monday, July 27, the following story appeared in the Rapid City Journal

    Judge defends marijuana sentence
    Jack Delaney imposed a gag order on political activist Bob Newland

    By Kevin Woster, Journal staff | Monday, July 27, 2009

    The well-known public advocate for the legalization of marijuana for medical purposes had previously pleaded guilty to felony possession of the drug. And Delaney wanted to make the sentence sting without imposing an unduly harsh prison term on a 60-year-old man with a relatively clean criminal record.

    So in essence, he told him to shut up for a year about one thing: medical marijuana, and an ongoing campaign to bring the issue to another public vote in 2010.

    Delaney sentenced Newland to one year in Pennington County Jail but suspended all but 45 days under a set of stipulations that included weekly drug tests, random searches and a one-year ban on public advocacy for medical marijuana.

    Delaney rejects assertions by some that he was imposing his personal beliefs on medical marijuana through the sentence.

    “I have no concern whatsoever about whether medical marijuana is legalized,” Delaney said during an interview with the Journal in his office. “The important thing was to have a sentence crafted to impose a penalty on Mr. Newland that was significant to him.”

    The advocacy ban was an infringement on Newland’s First Amendment rights. Delaney doesn’t deny that. But neither does he consider it more onerous or any less appropriate than many other infringements imposed as part of felony sentences.

    The random searches Newland faces in the next year would be violations of his constitutional rights, but for the felony plea. Felons can face otherwise unconstitutional firearms restrictions and the right to associate with certain people or go to certain establishments, Delaney said.

    “We restrict speech as well in a lot of protection orders, or in divorces, where in some cases the parties’ freedom to speak to one another may be limited,” he said.

    And given the fact that the maximum penalty for Class 6 felony marijuana possession was two years in prison and a $4,000 fine, Newland’s sentence could be considered light by others who face similar charges, Delaney said. He was particularly concerned about younger minority defendants who might get a longer jail term for the same crime.

    “I’m sitting there faced with a gentleman who is older, well known, who is thought by many to be considerably more well off than he is, and he is seeking a sentence that is going to be considerably more lenient that what they (minority defendants) might receive,” Delaney said. “So my thought was that I have to take something from him that is as valuable or maybe even more valuable than his freedom.”

    Delaney settled on what he calls the “partial infringement of speech,” as well as limits on his freedom of association in support of medical marijuana. Newland may still meet in private with medical marijuana advocates to plan the medical-marijuana campaign. But he cannot appear publicly in or speak on or for the campaign.

    “I’m taking away a legal right of the person to associate,” Delaney said. “I’m taking away his liberties. But not nearly as much as if he were in jail.”

    Typical sentences for the same felony possession charge range from 45 days to 120 days in jail, Delaney said. But many of those who receive such sentences have more criminal marks on their record, he said.

    Delaney has received about 40 e-mails commenting on the verdict, with many critical of the ban on speech and public involvement in the medical marijuana campaign. Many of the e-mails came from people active in the medical marijuana movement, he said, and some engaged in “name calling.”

    Others, however, were more understanding when Delaney explained his rationale.

    “All felonies are serious crimes, and they have a wide range of impacts on anybody who’s a felon,” he said. “This is unusual. And if it hadn’t been Bob Newland, it wouldn’t have had the same impact.”

    Contact Kevin Woster at 394-8413 or kevin.woster@rapidcityjournal.com

    In the online “Comments” on this story, Sen. Adelstein said this (reprinted as written, bad grammar and spelling intact):

    Judge Delaney was absolutely correct. To characterize Newland as an advocate for the legalization of marijuana for MEDICAL purposes is untrue. He is only interested in making marijuana available for his friends and others for recreational purposes, and perhaps financial gain.

    I met with him at the Capitol in Room 411, (or maybe 412) during the session to offer, to assist for MRDICAL purposes in a Bill, as Chair of Health and Human Services. I said that I would only do so if there were 3 (three) simple changes in the legislation he was proposing.

    1. There would be a required prescription from and MD legally authorized to issue drug prescription

    2.The prescription could only be given if either there was no FDA drug that would accomplish the same as the marijuana or that drug cost three more times the cost of the pot.

    3. The marijuana could only come from one or two sites approved and inspected by the SD Dept of Health

    He and his friends in the room flatly rejected all three saying that anyone could grow the stuff for anyone else at any time that it was needed

    I walked out of the room, knowing that they had no true interest in the help for people with pain and/or suffering. I of course opposed their bill vigorously and it did not even get to the House floor.

    Newland is and should be treated as a common felon. The Judge was correct from stopping his phone posturing, I only wish that it was for more than a single year.

    Stan Adelstein, State Senator District 32

    The details of the meeting as described by Adelstein are a lie. You can read the true story at the decorum Forum Blog, and you can comment there or at the Journal “Comments” site above.

    Best regards,

    Bob Newland
    24594 Chokecherry Ridge Rd
    Hermosa SD 57744

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director July 8, 2009

    Meet Hawaii’s Republican Governor Linda Lingle. On Monday, Gov. Lingle vetoed Senate Bill 1058, which called on the legislature to merely study “issues relating to medical cannabis patients and current medical cannabis laws.”

    Specifically, SB 1058 called for the formation of a legislative task force to:

    (1) Examine current state statutes, state administrative rules, and all county policies and procedures relating to the medical marijuana program;

    (2) Examine all issues and obstacles that qualifying patients have encountered with the medical marijuana program;

    (3) Examine all issue and obstacles that state and county law enforcement agencies have encountered with the medical marijuana program;

    (4) Compare and contrast Hawaii’s medical marijuana program with all other state medical marijuana programs; and

    (5) Address other issues and perform any other function necessary as the task force deems appropriate, relating to the medical marijuana program.

    In her veto address, Gov. Lingle alleged — laughably — that the mere act of examining the medical marijuana laws of Hawaii and a dozen other states violates federal anti-drug laws.

    “I am returning herewith, without my approval, Senate Bill No. 1058. … This bill establishes the medical cannabis task force … to review issues related to (Hawaii’s) medical marijuana program and make recommendations for any proposed legislation and rules. … The medical task force is unnecessary because it would attempt to deal with issues raised by medical marijuana users that can only be addressed by circumventing federal law.

    Keep in mind that just days earlier lawmakers in Rhode Island overwhelmingly approved legislation to allow the state to license nonprofit facilities to produce and dispense medicinal cannabis to qualified patients. Yet in Hawaii the Governor would have us believe that just gathering feedback from patients and local law enforcement regarding the state’s nearly ten-year-old medical cannabis program somehow violates federal law. It’s an absurd position and no doubt Gov. Lingle, who vetoed a similar task force bill last year, knows it.

    Of course, the true motive behind Gov Lingle’s action — and the similar actions of her fellow prohibitionists — is to silence any sort of public or political debate surrounding America’s failed marijuana policies.

    This was the motivation behind President Obama’s decision to ‘laugh off’ the issue of marijuana law reform during his online town hall this past March. Silencing free speech was also the driving force behind the actions of members of Congress who earlier this year threatened to withhold funding from the city of El Paso, Texas, if they so much as dared to hold an “honest, open national debate” regarding US drug policy. And surely this was the motivating force behind a South Dakota Judge’s decision this week to bar longtime NORML advocate Bob Newland from engaging in any public advocacy of marijuana law reform for one year. (Full disclosure: Bob Newland, under the banner of SoDakNORML, had been leading the petition drive to place a medical marijuana initiative on the 2010 state ballot. In other words, Judge Delaney’s decision isn’t simply limiting Mr. Newland’s constitutional rights to free speech, it’s also potentially limiting the voting rights of all South Dakotans.)


  • by Allen St. Pierre, Former NORML Executive Director July 7, 2009

    Hello Bob,

    I’m sorry to read of this near conclusion of your run-in with cannabis prohibition laws in SD. Like you, I’d hope to see a suspended sentence, or a lower sentence all together.

    With 98% of all criminal cases being plea bargained, I’m sure this Hobson’s Choice was a difficult one to make.

    Being banned from public advocacy regarding something you–and clearly tens of millions of other Americans agree should be discussed publicly–maybe the cruelest cut of all. One that I suspect is ironically going to draw more attention/media awareness to your ‘run-of-the-mill’ cannabis bust than any cannabis possession case in your state’s history (if it has not already).

    You may have to remain mum about marijuana advocacy (for a year), but groups like NORML never will, and where your voice has been temporarily silenced by a system (i.e., the mechanisms of cannabis prohibition) no longer worthy of public respect in America (and South Dakota), know full well that hundreds of thousands of your like-minded friends and fellow cannabis consumers will be LOUDLY protesting the continuation of cannabis prohibition from the halls of Congress, to Statehouses across the country, to the streets and parks in protest of both a failed public policy—and against any government or court mandates that seek criminal sanctions against citizens who disagree with prohibition laws, and will not allow them to share their views with the general public.

    When a simple cannabis arrest turns into government restrictions on protected First Amendment speech and right of assembly, cannabis consumers and concerned citizens need to re-double their efforts to end our country’s expensive and destructive cannabis prohibition laws.

    Godspeed Bob! Please remain in touch with NORML!!

    Cannabem liberemus,

    Allen St. Pierre


    On 7/6/09 9:40 PM, “Bob Newland” <newland@rapidcity.com> wrote:

    6 July 2009

    Hello everyone;

    This will be the last email I send under the banner ‘South Dakotans for Safe Access‘ at least for a year.

    By now, most of you know I plead to a felony count of possession of marijuana in May. Today I was sentenced.

    In an hour-long sentencing hearing, Judge Delaney waxed reminiscent as he described his admiration for Muhammad Ali’s stance against an illegal war, which cost him millions of dollars and his peak performing years, during which time he did not complain, nor did he leave the country that so abused him for his beliefs.

    Then, citing the fact that he (Judge Delaney) had to account for his actions to the hundreds of kids he sees in juvenile court, he sentenced me to a year in the Penn. Co. jail, with all suspended but 45 days. During the suspended part of the sentence I will wear a bracelet that senses alcohol use and I will be subject to arbitrary piss tests by a probation officer to detect illegal “drug” use. In addition I may have no “public role” in cannabis law reform advocacy during that year.

    Work release is an option, but I have few marketable skills, especially in a time when everyone else is getting laid off. I’ll follow any leads any of you might have.

    It was somewhat harsher than I expected, and probably less than I deserved. At least it did not cost me a career worth millions, and my peak performing years won’t begin until July 6, 2010. And that’s about all I feel comfortable saying about it. For a year.

    I’ll turn 61 in prison, doin’ six weeks for smokin’ a joint. Mama cried.

    I will do my time beginning sometime in August. If I have a job of the conventional sort (you know, with a time to get there and a time to leave) I can get work release. So, if you have any ideas for me along those lines?…

    Thanks again to all who sent letters to the judge, and to those who have sent messages of support to me.

    For 40 years I have watched as dozens of people I know–and thousands I know of–go through this same, ummm?, procedure. Now it’s happening to me, and I feel the same frustration over the purposelessness of it all as I have felt for all those other people, many, many, many of whom were treated far more viciously than I.

    Someday this war will be over.

    So long for now,
    For anything for which email is inadequate, contact sender at
    24594 Chokecherry Ridge Rd
    Hermosa SD 57744

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