Subcommittee recommends outlawing home-grown medical marijuana in South Dakota

Capitol News Bureau

NOTE TO READERS: Representative Rhonda Milstead was misquoted in the original version of this story. It is corrected below. Reporter Bob Mercer apologizes for the error.

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — A panel of state lawmakers recommended Wednesday that the Legislature should ban home-grown marijuana plants for medical use and overrule South Dakota voters.

Nearly 70% of voters approved IM 26 last November that legalized medical marijuana. One of the provisions calls for a three-plant minimum if a cardholder has a registry identification card to cultivate it at home.

But the Legislature’s Medical Marijuana Subcommittee voted 6-4 Wednesday to recommend banning home-grown marijuana. Told that Colorado officials recommended not allowing home-grown, Representative Rhonda Milstead, who serves on the Adult-Use Marijuana Subcommittee, asked, “Why are we not listening to the experience?”

The Medical Marijuana Subcommittee’s chairman, Senator Bryan Breitling, said references to home-grown were scattered through South Dakota’s new laws.

“It’s hard to pick out a specific section to take a vote on,” Breitling said. He said the vote was on the concept of an overall repeal. After the roll call, he said the issue would go next to the full Marijuana Study Committee‘s eight senators and 16 representatives.

The discussion came about one hour after the medical marijuana panel voted 8-2 to set some sort of maximum number of plants that could be possessed.

Breitling said the maximum question would be assigned to a workgroup to develop a proposal. “We can agree there will be a max. We just don’t know what yet,” he said.

The state Department of Health meanwhile has to deliver its administrative rules on medical marijuana to the Legislative Research Council by September 6. The Legislature’s Rules Review Committee will decide September 13 whether the rules can take effect.

The department must announce by October 29 its process for issuing medical-cannabis cards to people who have debilitating conditions and physician approval, and to care-givers.

Lawmakers on the adult-use subcommittee also discussed banning home-grown marijuana Wednesday afternoon.

Yvonne Taylor, executive director for the South Dakota Municipal League, said her organization opposes home-grown marijuana.

The adult-use subcommittee chairman, Representative Hugh Bartels, said the South Dakota Supreme Court is still weighing whether Constitutional Amendment A violated the South Dakota Constitution.

It would allow people age 21 and older to generally have marijuana in South Dakota and would charge a 15% tax that would generate more than $29 million for state government within a few years, according to a Legislative Research Council estimate.

“How long that’s going to take we don’t know. We just have to wait,” Bartels said about the Supreme Court case. “We’re kind of treading water until then.”

Governor Kristi Noem is challenging Amendment A. South Dakota voters gave it 54% support.

Home-grown is one of 12 topics that a subcommittee work group is considering for adult-use legislation. Bartels said he wants a draft distributed to lawmakers 10 days before the subcommittee’s meeting next month. He said the draft would be released to the public six to seven days before.

Jeremiah Murphy of Rapid City, a lobbyist for the cannabis industry, told the subcommittee that voters understood home-grown marijuana as a feature of Amendment A. “We one hundred percent would oppose the elimination of home grown,” he said.

One of the possibilities is allowing municipalities to decide whether they want adult-use marijuana sold in their communities. Colorado allows local control. “They can vote and not have it,” Bartels said.

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