Following last month’s vote in favor of legalizing medical marijuana in the state, the South Dakota Senate’s Health and Human Services Committee will meet Monday to consider a bill that would preempt all medical marijuana laws in the state.
South Dakota, the only state to allow medical marijuana, is now preparing to oppose legislative efforts to allow home-grown medical marijuana. The House Agriculture and Natural Resources Subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Jason Gjers, R-Brookings, voted 11-4 against a bill needed for the agricultural commissioner to issue a license for a growing operation, despite bipartisan support for the measure and the state’s medical marijuana program.
On Wednesday, a South Dakota legislative panel proposed that the state’s medicinal marijuana laws ban patients from growing marijuana at home.
A group of lawmakers working to draft rules to limit provisions of Initiated Measure 26 (IM26), a ballot measure to legalize medical marijuana that was passed by nearly 70% of South Dakota voters in the November 2020 general election, has made a recommendation to the South Dakota Legislative subcommittee.
A subcommittee of the South Dakota Marijuana Summer Study Committee, a body of legislators formed to propose modifications to IM 26, made the statement. Aside from banning home growing, the panel is contemplating removing legal safeguards for marijuana companies and their lawyers, as well as allowing municipal governments to prevent cannabis enterprises from operating in their areas.
Republican state Representative Carl Perry said, “We’re not here to say no to marijuana.” “What we’re here to do is make sure [policy] is sound.”
In November, South Dakota voters approved medical marijuana.
South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem stated that the medical marijuana initiative will be postponed after the approval of IM 26 and a second ballot proposal to legalize cannabis for adult use. Despite state law, which states that passed ballot initiatives take effect on July 1 of the year after their approval, which would have been this year, the postponement occurred.
In a statement issued by her office, Noem stated, “We are working hard to have IM 26 implemented safely and properly.” “It will need more time to determine the viability of getting this program up and operating. I appreciate our legislators’ assistance in ensuring that we do this right.”
House Majority Leader Kent Peterson, a Republican, voted in favor of the postponement, arguing that more time was required to develop a viable strategy to execute the legislation.
In a statement from Noem’s office, Peterson stated, “There is no question that IM 26 passed in South Dakota, and it is entirely our goal to respect the decision of the people.” “Based on the experiences of other states, we know that putting in place a safe and functional program takes time. We’ll do the task.”
Patients’ marijuana will be transferred to the illegal market, according to lawmakers who favor abolishing personal cannabis growing. Representative Fred Deutsch, a Republican, also mentioned the potential of robbers targeting residential gardens.
He cited evidence received during the committee’s intelligence collecting process when he stated, “It’s the connection between home grow and the illicit market.” “With the rise of criminality and the rise of the illicit market, home grow is arguably the most important ingredient.”
Other legislators pointed out that in at least a dozen jurisdictions where medical marijuana is allowed, patients are not permitted to cultivate their own medication. Home growing should not be permitted, according to Colorado regulatory authorities, according to Republican state Rep. Rhonda Milstead.
“Why aren’t we paying attention to what’s going on?” Milstead asked.
However, not all members of the subgroup agree with the panel’s recommendations. Representative Taylor Rehfeldt, a Republican, said she couldn’t support amendments that restrict patient access or don’t follow the will of the people. She does, however, favor enabling cities and counties to ban cannabis companies from operating in their jurisdictions.
Rehfledt stated, “I’ll always strive to preserve the purpose of IM 26 while considering the requirements of Sioux Falls and the whole state.” “I voted for local control partially because I know there are rural areas where medical marijuana was not passed by a majority, and I’m trying to think about their needs.”
Senator Mike Rohl, a Republican, was opposed to postponing the implementation of IM 26. He does not think that legislation prohibiting home production or allowing municipal governments to restrict marijuana businesses would be successful.
“I don’t believe they have the votes in the long term to get something like that done,” Rohl added.
Adult-Use Measures are also being attacked.
Noem is also working to reverse South Dakota voters’ ratification of Amendment A, a proposed constitutional amendment that would legalize and regulate recreational marijuana for adults. A lawsuit was filed on behalf of the governor against the proposal, which received 54 percent of the vote in the 2020 general election. A South Dakota circuit court judge decided in April that the amendment was unconstitutional and invalidated it.
The matter was subsequently appealed to the Supreme Court of South Dakota, which heard arguments from both parties in April. Representative Hugh Bartels, a Republican who heads a panel looking at adult-use cannabis legislation, said the court is currently debating whether Measure A is constitutional.
“We have no idea how long that will take. “All we can do now is wait,” Bartels said of the Supreme Court case. “Until then, we’re sort just treading water.”