No Hemp, No New Rights for Defendants in South Dakota 11/8/02

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Two initiatives championed by South Dakota's one-man drug reform movement, Bob Newland, went down in flames on Tuesday. An industrial hemp initiative was rejected by 62% of the voters, and the attention-grabbing Amendment A, also known as the Common Sense Justice Amendment, was defeated even more decisively, winning only 22%, according to unofficial counts.

While the hemp initiative received almost no attention, the Common Sense Justice Amendment, which would have allowed defendants in criminal cases to argue the merits, applicability and validity of the law, roused national interest, including a not unsympathetic piece in the Wall Street Journal. But it also roused the state's legal establishment, with defense attorneys as well as prosecutors denouncing the measure as leading to legal chaos and anarchy. The two major party candidates for Attorney General stood together to jointly oppose Amendment A.

On the other side were Newland, a coterie of hard-working volunteers, and Amendment A poster child Matthew Duchenaux, a Lakota Indian who was arrested for smoking marijuana to ease tremors caused by Multiple Sclerosis. Duchenaux's attorney's attempt to raise a medical necessity defense was okayed by a circuit court judge, but overturned on appeal. Duchenaux was convicted earlier this fall and sentenced to probation. Newland and other Amendment A supporters argued that it would have allowed Duchenaux to tell jurors that it was silly to convict him. But South Dakotans weren't buying, despite Newland's chilling last-minute presentation of legal horror stories inflicted on South Dakotans by the criminal justice system.

Visit to read Newland's presentation on the issue.

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Issue #262, 11/8/02 Editorial: More to This Vote Than Meets the Eye | Black Tuesday for Drug Reform | Arizona Steps Back as Decrim Initiative Loses, Anti-Reform Sentencing Initiative Wins | Legal Pot in Nevada? Not This Year | New York: Pataki Victory Swamps Dems, Golisano, Marijuana Reform Party, Libertarians | Ohio "Treatment Not Jail" Initiative Runs Into Drug War Buzzsaw | No Hemp, No New Rights for Defendants in South Dakota | Wisconsin: Libertarian Thompson Gets Ten Percent | DC Voters Overwhelmingly Approve Treatment Not Jail Initiative | Massachusetts Voters Tell Reps to Support Marijuana Decrim | San Francisco Voters Ask City to Look at Growing Its Own | FAMM Victory: Amendment to Cap Federal Guideline Sentences for Low-Level Drug Offenders is Now Law | Colombian Campaign for Drug Legalization | Anti-Prohibitionists Meet Human Rights Advocates and Political Leaders at Albania Congress of Transnational Radical Party | Newsbrief: Nordic Prohibitionists Beginning Counter-Campaign Supporting UN Drug Conventions | Web Scan: Forbes on Hope Taft, Newsday on Tony Papa, New Scientist on Cannabis, Raich v. Ashcroft Lawsuit Docs | Action Alerts: Rave Bill, Medical Marijuana, Higher Education Act Drug Provision, Tulia, Salvia Divinorum | The Reformer's Calendar

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