S.D. Senate says yes to adult-use marijuana

Capitol News Bureau

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — South Dakota should be ready in case the state Supreme Court sides with the majority who voted to legalize adult-use marijuana, the state Senate decided Wednesday.

Senator Brock Greenfield convinced a majority in the chamber they should start creating a framework, despite Governor Kristi Noem trying to overturn the November election that saw 54% of voters say yes to Amendment A.

The senators’ 19-16 decision sends SB 187 to the House. Greenfield said the voters’ will needed to be respected lest there be a backlash.

“And at some point, the voters, our electorate, is going to say, ‘These people can’t get the message and they won’t do their jobs, and since they’re abdicating their responsibility, once again we will tell them what our will is and what the framework will be,'” Greenfield said.

Senator Michael Rohl found fault with the plan, even though he supported Amendment A, because the legislation would allow only businesses with malt beverage licenses to sell adult-use marijuana as long as they are at least 51% percent South Dakota-owned.

Medical-use marijuana would be sold only at dispensaries that would be licensed under a different law known as IM 26 that nearly 70% of voters approved in November.

“We’re going to be selling this at gas stations. We’re going to be selling this at grocery stores. We’re going to be selling this at bars. That is not the responsible way to set this up,” Rohl said about the adult-use plan.

The adult-use legislation limits sales to people age 21 and older. There would be two sets of penalties for underage violations: Up to one year in county jail for selling to people under age 18, and up to 30 days for selling to those age 18 but younger than age 21.

Senator Wayne Steinhauer said he was okay that a tax mechanism isn’t part of the legislation. Amendment A already calls for a 15% tax on transactions.

“I have constituents who say ‘You oughta tax the heck out of this’ because they’re concerned about the public getting addicted. Here’s what I’m really worried about — the addiction that’s going to happen is going to happen here in Pierre. The addiction is going to be to the money,” Steinhauer said.

Greenfield said the 51% ownership requirement was to meet existing court decisions. “So we’ve tried to set the guardrails in such a way that we’re trying to keep as much of this ‘home-grown’ as possible but also to not run amiss with case law,” he said.

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