SD lawmakers: Study marijuana, housing

Capitol News Bureau
KELO Marijuana General

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — The future of marijuana and the need for workforce housing in South Dakota will be studied this year, the Legislature’s Executive Board decided Thursday.

Senator Bryan Breitling will chair and Representative Hugh Bartels will be vice-chair of a 24-legislator committee that will consider medical and recreational marijuana.

Representative Roger Chase, who works in real estate, will chair and Senator Casey Crabtree will be vice-chair of the workforce housing study.

House Speaker Spencer Gosch and Senate President Pro Tem Lee Schoenbeck agreed there could be 50 marijuana bills offered in the 2022 session.

The board heard from Representative Rhonda Milstead, who warned that IM 26, the medical marijuana law that nearly 70% of voters approved last year, will be “a public safety nightmare” when it takes effect July 1.

She said that she had just come from the conferences of South Dakota fire chiefs and law enforcement and the chiefs want “a seat at the table regarding marijuana.”

“They haven’t been given that seat at the table and they are very concerned about that,” Milstead said. “Their concerns have to do with public safety.”

Sections 92 and 93 of the new law establish a 14-member oversight committee, including two people from law enforcement, that must meet at least twice a year to make legislative recommendations.

Gosch said the Executive Board doesn’t have the legal authority to open up the committee to add fire chiefs. He said they could testify to the committee.

From Milstead’s perspective, IM 26 doesn’t protect neighborhoods, roads and youths. “There are things that need to be addressed now before July first happens,” she warned. “If you let these things go, people are going to be hurt.”

Schoenbeck said he expects the legislative marijuana committee’s 24 members to break into two subcommittees. “This is all about educating members of our respective caucuses,” he said.

No one on the board Thursday publicly mentioned the legal dispute over Constitutional Amendment A that 54% of voters approved last year allowing people age 21 and older to use marijuana.

Governor Kristi Noem has challenged its validity. A circuit judge appointed by Noem in 2019 ruled in her favor. The South Dakota Supreme Court hears the oral argument Wednesday, April 28.

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