PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — A legislative conference committee is recommending that medical-cannabis cardholders in South Dakota be limited to no more than two flowering plants and two immature ones.
“I think it’s a reasonable compromise for the two chambers to agree to,” Representative Fred Deutsch, R-Florence, said before the 4-2 vote Wednesday afternoon.
He offered it as a middle-ground for SB 24, after the House-Senate negotiating panel rejected his attempt to ban homegrown altogether for medical-cannabis cardholders. The Senate had previously approved three flowering plants and three immature plants.
IM 26, which 70% of voters approved in November 2020 legalizing medical cannabis, sets a floor of at least three plants but doesn’t have an upper limit. The 2+2 deal would change that.
Supporting it Wednesday were senators Helene Duhamel, R-Rapid City, and Bryan Breitling, R-Miller, and representatives Hugh Bartels, R-Watertown, and Deutsch. Opposed were Senator Michael Rohl, R-Aberdeen, and Representative Jennifer Keintz, D-Eden.
During public testimony, Representative Mike Derby, R-Rapid City, said he opposed homegrown because millions of dollars will be invested in cannabis dispensaries and homegrown takes away customers.
But Terra Larson, a lobbyist for the South Dakota Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, said voters were “very clear” that homegrown should be part of the medical cannabis system. She said voters wanted homegrown for people who don’t have ready access to dispensaries.
Later in the afternoon, Senator David Wheeler, R-Huron, asked the Senate to not-adopt and appoint again. He said the Senate compromised at 3+3. “I would ask this body to stick with that,” he said. “Three and three is the compromise with voters.” The 2+2 would make South Dakota the most restrictive home-grow state, according to Wheeler.
Breitling said marijuana had been debated “extensively” this session. “It is not our responsibility to make sure that the new cannabis industry is financially solvent,” he said; instead, the goal is safety.
Rohl asked how two flowering plants are safer than three. Breitling said that 2+2 gives cardholders the right to grow their own marijuana and still meets the voters’ intent to have homegrown. Rohl said three plants are better than two because there are three sub-types of cannabis that can be used at different times of day. “We should be trying to do what is best for the patient,” Rohl said.
Duhamel said many senators oppose homegrown and so does law enforcement. Senator Jim Stalzer, R-Sioux Falls, attended the conference committee meeting and said he can accept 2+2. “The worst thing we can do is nothing,” he said.
Lieutenant Governor Larry Rhoden, as the Senate’s presiding officer, initially ruled that Wheeler’s motion failed on a voice vote. There was a call for division before the gavel fell, however, and he asked the supporters of Wheeler’s motion to stand. He counted and, without revealing the number, declared the motion lost.
The roll call that followed was 24-11 in favor of the 2+2 plan.
Voting no were Crabtree; Blake Curd, R-Sioux Falls; Red Dawn Foster, D-Pine Ridge; Troy Heinert, D-Mission; Reynold Nesiba, D-Sioux Falls; Herman Otten, R-Lennox; Rohl; Kyle Schoenfish, R-Scotland; Erin Tobin, R-Winner; Wheeler; and Larry Zikmund, R-Sioux Falls.