Marijuana dominates early South Dakota legislative agenda

As legislators prepare for the legislative session in Pierre, they're already facing questions of what's next for the state's medical and potential recreational programs.

RAPID CITY, S.D. — There’s no way around it, marijuana is going to be a major topic of discussion among lawmakers at this year’s legislative session.

Marijuana Legislaitve 4In 2020, South Dakota residents voted to legalize medical and recreational marijuana.

The medical program in the state started, even though there may be some things to work out while state legislators work to regulate the program.

As far as recreational marijuana in the state, despite it being voted down as part of Amendment A in late 2021 by the South Dakota Supreme Court, some lawmakers have introduced legislation to it.

Montana legalized recreational marijuana on the same day as South Dakota and according to Montana media reports, the first weekend of its legalization brought in over $1.5 million in sales.

Last summer, 24 legislators studied medical and reactional marijuana in preparation for the legislative session.

“It was my opinion that Amendment A was validly passed and so we are missing out on that program,” said District 22 Senator David Wheeler. “However, it does give us the opportunity to put together a good program here, hopefully this legislative session.”

This leaves legislators at a crossroads as they gear up for the State of the State Address by Governor Kristi Noem.

“Basically, this session we have to look at, do we want to tackle it legislatively now and move the process along currently, or wait until the vote in November?” said District 34 Representative Mike Derby.

The medical marijuana program went into effect last July and now legislators are faced with fine tuning the program. According to Wheeler, those that participated in the summer study looked at other states, like Iowa, to get a look at other states who legalized it before South Dakota.

Sen. Wheeler said that some states were too strict in their implementation process while others were too loose in their restrictions.

State Representative Fred Deutsch, who intends to bring seven different bills to the legislature pertaining to medical marijuana, says his legislation will aim to give schools the right to decide whether medical marijuana is allowed on their grounds.

Representative Deutsch is also advocating for doctors’ access to the registry of marijuana users.

“They believe it’s important for good medicine to have the ability to look up and see if a person is taking medical marijuana because it interacts,” said State Rep. Fred Deutsch. “It reacts with so many other kinds of medicines.”

Roughly two dozen bills related to cannabis will be debated at the capitol this session.

For full list of the bills, click here. 

Categories: Cannabis Legislation, Local News, Politics & Elections, South Dakota News