PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — Legal recreational use of marijuana may have narrowly passed the South Dakota Senate, but members in the House or Representatives say the issue faces long odds before making it to the governor’s desk.
In a news conference Thursday, House Majority Leader Rep. Kent Peterson (R-Salem) said legal marijuana faces a tough path in whatever House committee it ends up in.
“That hasn’t been very favorable in the House,” Peterson said. “I would assume that’s going to have a decently tough path going forward.”
Senate Bill 3 is called “an act to provide for the use and regulated sale of marijuana” and the bill came from lawmakers’ summer study group on the issue while voter-passed Amendment A’s fate was still unknown. It passed a Senate committee 5-3 and edged through the Senate 18-17.
In the House, a bill to ban medical marijuana cardholders from growing cannabis passed 41-29. While bans to medical marijuana gummies and similar bills have failed in the House, a bill creating adult-use marijuana was killed in a House committee 11-1 last year.
“We haven’t been supportive of that last year and I don’t know how that’d potentially change this year,” Peterson said.
Sen. Troy Heinert (D-Mission) said the Senate’s passing of SB 3 “raised a lot of eyebrows.”
“It’s a big step if the Legislature wants to take control of what recreational marijuana looks like in the state,” Heinert said.
That’s been the main argument lawmakers have been discussing regarding recreational marijuana – whether to leave the issue up to another ballot initiative voted on in November or to pass a more legislative-controlled version of recreational marijuana.
In committee discussion, Sen. Michael Rohl (R-Aberdeen), the prime sponsor, said authors of a ballot measure regarding recreational marijuana have given word they would withdraw a ballot measure if SB 3 was signed into law.
Peterson said he hasn’t been in contact with the authors of the possible ballot measure so he wouldn’t comment if it would be a fair compromise on the issue.
The Secretary of State’s office reports petitions are circulating for a 2022 ballot question for an initiated measure legalizing the possession, use and distribution of marijuana.
Sen. Michael Diedrich (R-Rapid City), who voted against SB 3, said he saw the pros and cons to each side during debate in the Senate and understood the reason lawmakers want to be proactive with a bill rather than work with a passed in a ballot measure.
Gov. Kristi Noem (R-S.D.) has repeatedly said she doesn’t support recreational marijuana.
SB 3 has yet to be assigned to a House committee.