Legislators from the U.S. and Canada gather in Sioux Falls for three day forum

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Legislators from the U.S. and Canada gathered in Sioux Falls Tuesday to learn from one another. 

One of Tuesday’s topics?  The legalization of marijuana.  

This three-day forum focuses on everything from water quality to the opioid crisis.

“The point of International Legislator’s Forum really is to learn from one another and these various jurisdiction from Manitoba, Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota, but also then to bring in experts so having people from Colorado and Manitoba that have had various kinds of legalization it’s really helpful to be able to hear and learn from them,” Reynold Nesiba, South Dakota State Senator, said.

One topic is the legalization of medicinal and recreational marijuana. Gretchen Dobervich is a legislator in North Dakota where medicinal marijuana is legal.

“It’s important that we give people options for their healthcare, and that we also are, as we think about moving forward with medical marijuana or recreational marijuana, regardless of the state or the province, that we’re working from an evidence based factual standpoint and not an emotional standpoint,” Gretchen Dobervich, North Dakota House of Representatives minority caucus chair District 11, said.

Other representatives want more evidence on how marijuana can help people. 

“I think as legislators that’s where you come in actually, is you have to be able to say no in this industry when they’re coming to you with these things,” Jean Robinson, Legislative Liaison, Colorado Department of Revenue, said.

Out of the 50 states, 13 have not legalized marijuana medicinally or recreationally. 

“My sense of the South Dakota legislature is that we will never legalize it or that we will be the absolutely last state in the country to do that,” Reynold Nesiba said.

Canada recently legalized marijuana, but there’s one strict rule.

“We can never ever forget about that very, very first part of why we regulate, is to protect the public,” Kadri Irwin, Director, Licensing; Liquor, Gaming and Cannabis Authority of Manitoba, said.

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