SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — There’ll be plenty of marijuana talk in Pierre this month. 

As of Monday, more than 25 of the 38 posted proposed bills for the 2022 legislative session deal with marijuana or medical marijuana. This is the second session for lawmakers after South Dakota voters approved both medical marijuana and recreational marijuana in the 2020 election. 

Recreational marijuana passed in 2020 but was challenged by Gov. Kristi Noem (R-S.D.) in court and ultimately struck down by the state Supreme Court 4-1. Before the Amendment A ruling was released, lawmakers on the Marijuana Interim Study Committee voted 14-10 to endorse a proposed bill now known as Senate Bill 3.

The bill is called “an act to provide for the use and regulated sale of marijuana” and it contains 48 sections in 30 pages. 

Rep. Hugh Bartels (R-Watertown) said 24 lawmakers served on Marijuana Interim Study Committee in an effort to educate more lawmakers on both medical and adult-use marijuana topics. He was the Vice Chair of the Marijuana Interim Study Committee and also serves on the legislature’s Executive Board.

“We drafted that bill just so there would be some research on the shelf in a way to regulate marijuana,” Bartles, a prime sponsor of SB 3, said. “Senate Bill 3 is quite long too but the first 20 pages just clean up the code. There’s only really 10 pages of a marijuana bill. Rather than saying no matter what the law says somewhere else, marijuana is legal, we actually cleaned the law up in that bill.”

SB 3 would legalize possession of one ounce or less of marijuana by a person 21 or older and reduce other penalties for possession of marijuana by a person 21 or older. Currently, possession of two ounces or less is a class 1 misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and up to $2,000 in fines.

The bill also lays out penalties for people under 21 who use marijuana or marijuana products. There are felony penalties for anyone unlicensed or not registered with the state selling or distributing marijuana as well as penalties for using marijuana while driving or in a public place or place of employment. You can view the full bill below. 

Bartels said many lawmakers know how their district voted on Amendment A. 

“They’re still going to vote their heart a little bit, but they’re also considering what people in their district thought,” Bartels said. “If the legislature and the 105 members think it makes sense to pass it before the vote of the people, we’ll probably do that.” 

Bartels added he wouldn’t be surprised if the legislature delayed Senate Bill 3 for another year. 

According to the Secretary of State’s office, petitions are circulating for a 2022 ballot question for an initiated measure legalizing the possession, use and distribution of marijuana. Bartles noted that specific ballot measure is only six sections.

Bartels added he believed voters may have been confused when medical marijuana was tied together with Amendment A in campaign advertisements.

“The ballot initiative really doesn’t regulate marijuana it just legalizes small amounts of it,” Bartels said. “I don’t know how this current ballot measure will do. We’ll have to wait and see.”

Sen. Troy Heinert (D-Mission), another member of the interim study committee, told KELOLAND News he believed recreational marijuana legalization will be a topic many lawmakers discuss during the upcoming session.

Regardless of future ballot measures, Bartles said encourages people to reach out to their elected officials on this issue. 

“I get a lot of contact from people and I appreciate every one of those calls,” Bartels said. “It always makes good sense to do that.”

More than 20 bills aim to revise medical marijuana program

South Dakota’s medical marijuana program continues to move forward in the state. The first state-issued medical marijuana card was issued to a Day County resident in November. Cities and counties have begun approving licenses for medical marijuana dispensaries, but no cultivation licenses have been granted by the state. More than 20 proposed bills look to revise or repeal specific provisions involving medical cannabis.

“There were some problems in the 96 sections of code that most people didn’t bother to read,” Bartels said about the medical marijuana law (IM 26) that passed 70%-30%. “There’s 20-some bills to deal with that and I think maybe half of them will end up passing the legislature.” 

Bartles said many of the medical marijuana changes help clean-up or correct language from the 2020 law. He said he’s a sponsor of bill, SB 22, which revises the word “Department of Criminal Investigation” to “Division of Criminal Investigation. 

“There is no Department of Criminal Investigation. I have high hopes that one will pass,” Bartels said with a smile. 

Another bill, SB 25, creates the taxation of marijuana. It would require all marijuana to be taxed at 15% based on the average market rate. 

Bartels said many of the bills were proposed in the Senate so the Senate Health and Human Services Committee will likely get the first crack at many of the bills.

“I think they got filed early because they were summer study bills and they are ready to go,” Bartels said. “We’ll see how they come out of the Senate and what’s leftover, we’ll look at in the House.”