PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — Turns out the Legislature’s medical-marijuana subcommittee that met Wednesday to look over proposed rules for South Dakota’s new program also has three sets of its members working privately, outside the public’s view, on potential changes to Initiated Measure 26 that nearly 70% of voters passed in the 2020 election.
Its chairman, Senator Bryan Breitling, told members that any legislation from the subcommittee seeking changes could be acted upon November 9, 2021. That’s when lawmakers will be back to the Capitol for a special session held every decade for drawing boundaries for the Legislature’s 35 districts.
Breitling said any changes proposed by the subcommittee that day would need to fit within a tight schedule. “Not a lot of opportunity for debate, and so it has to be quite overwhelmingly supportive of our summer study to be accepted during special session,” he said.
Breitling said legislators could also submit proposals on their own. He said the subcommittee must complete the final report on its work October 27.
Based on their questions Wednesday, some legislators such as Representative Fred Deutsch and Representative Carl Perry have changes in mind that they may want to pursue, either November 9 or after the 2022 session opens January 11.
The Legislature attempted during the 2021 session to delay the start of the medical-marijuana program. Governor Kristi Noem campaigned against IM 26 before the statewide vote and then worked behind the scenes on the delay. The effort died when the House and the Senate couldn’t agree.
Noem also campaigned against Constitutional Amendment A legalizing marijuana for people age 21 and older, which voters passed with 54% support. She led an effort after the election to have the result declared invalid. The South Dakota Supreme Court is considering the matter.
The topic areas for the medical-marijuana subcommittee’s workgroups are establishments, medical issues and law enforcement, according to Breitling. He told the lawmakers Wednesday they should have their duties complete and their recommendations ready by the subcommittee’s next scheduled meeting September 1.
The recommendations should be “very specific, very concise,” Breitling said.
Representative Ernie Otten said a citizen had contacted him seeking more information about what the workgroups are looking at and their members.
Breitling sidestepped that request and said the citizen could work directly with Otten.
“The workgroups are not public meetings,” Breitling told Otten.
South Dakota’s health secretary told the subcommittee Wednesday that some adjustments have already occurred in the proposed rules on medical cannabis, such as the addition of specific debilitating conditions that would qualify a patient for certification as a card-holder.
Kim Malsam-Rysdon said 35 states currently have medical-cannabis programs. A public hearing on the 116 pages of proposed rules is scheduled for August 18 and written comments will be taken through August 28. The schedule calls for Legislature’s Rules Review Committee to decide September 13 whether the final version can go forward.