PIERRE - A South Dakota House committee has rejected a measure that would have let people charged with possessing small amounts of marijuana argue in court that they need it for medical reasons.

The Health and Human Services Committee voted 7-6 to kill the bill.

The sponsors said they do not want to legalize marijuana or set up a distribution system where people could get it for medical purposes. But they said people suffering or dying from cancer or other diseases should be able to use medical necessity as a defense in court.

State and local law enforcement officials opposed the bill, saying it could open the door to eventual legalization of marijuana in South Dakota.

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