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Marijuana is a dirty drug. “Marijuana concentrates,” ranging up to 80% tetrahydrocannabinol, are dirtier.

The primary psychoactive compound in marijuana, tetrahydrocannabinol, has been linked to mental and physiological health problems in users, particularly in children and youth.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse has further warned, “70% of today’s illicit drug users started with marijuana, not prescription drugs.”

The marijuana industry is comprised powerful big business enterprises and a thriving undercurrent of black market growers and dealers. Their goal is to maximize profits at the expense of South Dakota citizens by expanding their marijuana user base and promoting immoderate indulgence.

According to NBC News, “foreign cartels” are finding profit streams by setting up “black market marijuana” operations in states that have legalized cannabis. “Chinese, Cuban and Mexican drug rings have purchased or rented hundreds of homes and use human trafficking to bring inexperienced growers to the United States to tend them, federal and local officials say.”

These foreign cartels are targeting states that have already legalized marijuana “in an attempt to shroud their operations in our legal environment here and then take the marijuana outside of the state,” said Mike Hartman, executive director of the Colorado Department of Revenue, which regulates the cannabis industry.

El Paso County (Colo.) Sheriff Bill Elder affirmed these trends: “While California and Washington have mainly seen organized criminals from China buying homes and converting them into grow houses, Colorado has largely been grappling with Cuban and Mexican-led cartels. … They have found that it’s easier to grow and process marijuana in Colorado, ship it throughout the United States, than it is to bring it from Mexico or Cuba.”

South Dakotans should reject the two ballot initiatives that would open our state to big money marijuana syndicates and the inevitable coattail expansion of black market operations.

Bernie Hendricks

Brookings

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