PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — State lawmakers will start taking a deeper look next week at what more they want, now that voters have legalized marijuana in South Dakota.
The Legislature’s Executive Board has appointed what might be the largest-ever special committee — 24 members — to study marijuana for people age 21 and older, as well as medical marijuana for adults and students who have a health practitioner’s permission card.
Senator Bryan Breitling will chair the panel, with Representative Hugh Bartels as vice chair. The first set of meetings are Wednesday and Thursday in the state Capitol. At this point, 12 witnesses are scheduled the first day and five on the second day.
The committee’s statement of scope says, “We in the legislature will be seeing this product in all its forms and uses in the not distant future. Let’s get unbiased (or both sides) sources of information to create the best system that works for our state.”
On the South Dakota Constitution change known as Amendment A, the vote was 225,260 yes and 190,477 no. Majorities supported A in 25 of the 66 counties.
The Legislature in 2019 approved growing, transporting and processing industrial hemp, so long as it had no more than three-tenths of 1% THC, but Governor Kristi Noem vetoed it. She agreed to allow passage of a similar bill in 2020, after lawmakers agreed to provide the funding she said was necessary.
Noem, a Republican, opposed both marijuana measures last fall. After majorities of voters approved them, she sued to have Amendment A’s victory declared invalid. A circuit judge she had appointed ruled in her favor. The sponsor, Brendan Johnson, a Democrat and a former U.S. attorney for South Dakota, appealed to the South Dakota Supreme Court.
The five justices heard the argument April 28. They didn’t indicate when a decision will be released.
The governor also tried to delay the start of IM 26 but the effort fell apart in the Legislature. That means the medical-marijuana laws take effect July 1, although establishments aren’t expected to start commercial sales until perhaps October or later.
The state Board of Education Standards on Monday approved rules for medical marijuana to be administered in K-12 schools. The state Department of Health hasn’t proposed its rules yet.
Noem also opposed legislation this year updating the state’s industrial hemp laws, leading many of its supporters to expect a veto, including the prime sponsor, Representative Caleb Finck. But she signed HB 1228 into law without comment.