PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — A state lawmaker came close Friday but couldn’t get the South Dakota House of Representatives to revive legislation that would eliminate the legal defense for using medical cannabis without a state-issued card.

The House voted 34-32 against adding SB 20 to its Monday debate calendar.

The House Judiciary Committee had rejected the bill Wednesday, but Representative Rhonda Milstead, R-Hartford, was able to muster enough support from the full House to force the committee to release it.

She needed a majority of 36 on Friday to force a debate by the 70-member House. Representative Tom Pischke, R-Dell Rapids, argued against putting it on the calendar.

South Dakota voters in 2020 approved the medical-purpose defense as part of passing IM 26 that legalized medical cannabis. It allows a person to assert the medical purpose for using cannabis as a defense to any prosecution involving cannabis, regardless whether the person has a state card.

“It’s a defense attorney’s dream, is what it is,” Representative Mary Fitzgerald, R-Spearfish, said Friday afternoon, before she was gently admonished by the House speaker to keep her remarks to whether the bill should be put on the calendar.

The Senate approved eliminating the medical-purpose defense 25-10. Removing it was one of the proposals made by the Legislature’s interim marijuana committee last year. The state’s medical-cannabis program is processing applications for cards and private facilities, with the first sales expected later this year.