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Marijuana Reform – Far From Hopeless, But Not Inevitable


lemon diesel marijuana strainIn South Dakota, I am hard at work with Students for Sensible Drug Policy and Students For Liberty in order to educate others in truthful marijuana and drug education. Specifically, I am working to bring medical marijuana to the state of South Dakota. This is a very new endeavor that is starting in South Dakota, and I think that with some hard work of activists throughout the state, medical marijuana could be a possibility in South Dakota.

However in my work on campus, on social media, and around town, I am constantly told that I am wasting my time. I am sure there are many veteran drug reformers reading that have heard this before. You have probably been told that your pursuit is useless and medical marijuana will never be legalized. But that isn’t what I am told at all. Actually, I am told almost exactly the opposite, but with the same conclusion.

I am told that medical and recreational marijuana legalization is inevitable, and I am wasting my time for promoting it. Like seriously? Medical and recreational marijuana legalization is inevitable? That doesn’t make any sense!

If people were to stop working on legalization efforts, how would it get passed? There is no one pushing it, and this is really dangerous talk! This is talk that will get into the head of legalization supporters, and then completely stall us.

In fact, this was a discussion point at last year’s Students for Sensible Drug Policy Conference, and it is a super exciting discussion point to have. I don’t think there are a lot of drug reformers around that would have thought that they would be warning people to not think that marijuana legalization is inevitable. So this is certainly a good and bad problem to have.

Something important to keep in mind is that drug reform efforts will never end, per se. Even after we have legalized marijuana, our job goes from being reformers to being conservatives. After that point we must conserve what we have won and fought for because there will always be people around trying to take that liberty away. Plus, we haven’t gotten there yet! There still needs to be leaders and reformers around to actually end marijuana prohibition! It won’t just do it itself.


About Author

John Knetemann currently attends South Dakota School of Mines and Technology where he is a chapter leader for Students for Sensible Drug Policy. John has had a passion for drug policy reform since he was a senior in high school, and hasn’t looked back since. Along with his work in SSDP, he is a part of the North American Executive Board for Students For Liberty. You can find John on Twitter.


  1. Legalize Black Hills on

    Jan. 26 2015 patients and.supporters day at the capitol. legalize south dakota, legalize black hills, south dakota family coalition for compassion and south dakotans against prohibitiob will all be there. I sincerely hope you and your group will make it there as well. please contact any of these groups via facebook, if you need help getting.to the event. And thank you for supporting medical marijuana!

  2. Bear_Gebhardt on

    Thanks John, for what you are doing. As an old guy, having been in this biz since the mid 60’s, I’d suggest that you are only “wasting your time” if you don’t enjoy what you are doing. If you don’t enjoy it, even if it’s a good cause, stand back. It’s not your cause. (Too many cranks spoil the brew.) If you still enjoy it, keep doing it.
    South Dakota might be a “challenging” place to change minds, but you can be thankful you’re not in Wyoming! I live in Colorado, 30 miles from the Wyoming border, and we have long lines of Wyoming folks here in our pot shops. (And a few from South Dakota, and every other adjoining and non-adjoining state.) Alas, they have to deal with the draconian Wyoming laws when they drive back home. It feels so sweet to live in a “it’s legal” state. So keep plodding: the end is worth it!
    BTW, I have also found that when I stopped smoking so much weed on such a regular basis (I wrote the book, “The Potless Pot High: How to Get High Clear and Spunky without Weed”) I am a much more vocal, open and articulate advocate, not only for medical marijuana but also for its recreational purposes. The laws against pot are our “Berlin Wall.” They have to come down. Thanks for what you are doing.

  3. In some ways they’re quite correct. The stuff us activists have been writing in LTEs, on blogs and newspaper comment threads is now being covered by dozens of normal journalists. I used to spend at least 8 hours of every day spreading facts and stats. These days, I have to look really hard for a comment thread in need of enlightenment. The American public have suddenly woken up to the fact that prohibition really is a scam. To all of you reading this, I have one important piece of advice: When commenting on articles, please fill your comments with the correct terminology, that is, use the words “prohibition” and “prohibitionists” instead of “the war on drugs” and “drug warriors”.

    Wishing you all a sticky and smelly 2015!

  4. Lawrence Goodwin on

    That’s the spirit, John K.! Please consider, since you’re in their neck of the woods, the fierce determination of men like Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull. That same kind of struggle (minus any violence) is needed to defeat the oppressive anti-“marihuana” tyranny. The heart of this beast is far away from South Dakota, under the guarded supervision of Schedule I of the federal Controlled Substances Act. Yet, the insidiousness of the states’ enforcement of that law is beyond description. For 44 years, our so-called ‘leaders’ have consistently managed to ban the cultivation of the entire CANNABIS plant species by using that farcical Mexican slang word, “marijuana,” in law, while local TV stations and newspapers bombard us with hysteria and lies in reference to these plants. Let us not forget that legal cannabis cultivation offers us some of Earth’s most amazing raw materials: the fibers and pulp from stalks; seed oils for skin care, fuel, or nutritious food loaded with protein and essential acids; leaves for animal bedding; and, yes, everybody’s favorite seedless female flowers for medicine and relaxation. To make another play on history: The only thing we have to fear about cannabis, is the fear of these plants itself!

  5. Yes there is a high probability the reform will happen. But with out people like you who go that extra long mile reform could be forgotten. The fact is with out the efforts of every active person in reform none of any of theses new marijuana laws would of happened.

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