Packs loaded with hemp energy bars, hemp pretzels and medical-marijuana petitions, Hermosa political activist Bob Newland set out for Sioux Falls on Sunday afternoon – on a bicycle.
“It’s a personal growth experience,” he told reporters, who stopped him 10 miles east of town for brief interviews.
Newland is riding to collect signatures on petitions for a 2006 ballot measure to legalize medical marijuana in South Dakota.
He is also bicycling in memory of his late friend Mike Ducheneaux, who was convicted for possessing the marijuana he used to relieve muscle spasms related to a spinal cord injury.
Newland said Sunday that when he explains how the ballot measure is intended to “help the sick and dying,” almost no one refuses a signature.
He believes he will log about 500 miles on the southern two-lane route across the state, through Vermillion.
He will turn around there and pedal back to Rapid City, “if nothing explodes,” he said.
The most likely component to “explode” might be the bike’s human engine. “I haven’t bicycled 500 miles in my entire life,” Newland admitted to reporters, who stopped him on S.D. Highway 44 East, 10 miles east of town.
His bicycle is a Giant Revive “semi-recumbent” model that allows him to sit upright and enjoy the view. He is also towing a bike trailer. The bike, trailer, nine assorted packs and miscellaneous gear weigh more than 120 pounds.
Newland is a long-time proponent of industrial hemp.
He is also a frequent candidate for the Libertarian Party. His bicycle helmet bears a “South Dakota Gun Owners” sticker, as well a sticker for “South Dakotans for Safe Access,” the group Newland founded to promote legalizing medical marijuana.
“Oh good, it’s raining,” Newland said as pedaled away – wobbly, until he picked up speed – heading east on the one-man “Matthew Ducheneaux Trail to Safe Access Bicycle Tour Across South Dakota.”
On the Web
Follow Bob Newland’s progress and get more information about South Dakotans for Safe Access at http://www.sodaksafeaccess.org/
Contact Bill Harlan at 394-8424