S.D. lawmakers wonder whether medical pot proposal goes too far on non-public schools

Capitol News Bureau

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — Initiated Measure 26 requires that South Dakota mimic Colorado on letting students receive medical marijuana in K-12 schools. But proposed rules for South Dakota were rejected Monday because they would apply to all accredited public and non-public schools, while Colorado’s 2019 law didn’t appear to cover non-public schools.

Representatives Kevin Jensen, Jon Hansen and Ryan Cwach and Senators Timothy Johns and Jean Hunhoff all made variations on that point, as the Legislature’s Rules Review Committee decided the proposed rules shouldn’t be allowed to take effect because the package would go too far.

The committee, which has become increasingly strict about following process in recent years, dug through the proposals and decided after 75 minutes to send them back to the state Board of Education Standards and the South Dakota Department of Education for more work.

Nearly 70% of South Dakota voters approved Initiated Measure 26 legalizing medical marijuana on November 3. Section 95 specifically says South Dakota should follow the Colorado law on allowing students to be administered medical marijuana in schools.

 The Colorado law covers public schools and charter schools, which receive public funding. “I don’t see it in there,” Hansen said about the Colorado law being silent on non-public schools. “I don’t see where it applies to non-public schools.”

Amanda LaCroix, the department lawyer who led the drafting of the South Dakota proposal, noted South Dakota doesn’t have charter schools. “We interpret that to be all accredited public and non-public,” she said, noting it “wasn’t a very clear mirroring” between laws for the two states.

Hansen, a lawyer, said his concern was state government would be telling a non-public school that it must allow the administration of a substance — marijuana — that remains illegal under federal law. 

Johns, a retired circuit judge, said the proposal captures all schools. “I would like further analysis on that point,” Johns said. “I think it’s appropriate to look further at that.” 

Hansen said mimicking the Colorado law would seem to mean the South Dakota rules should apply only to public school districts and he wants to be “absolutely certain” of the scope.

Said Cwach, a lawyer, “I’m shaking my head too.”

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