South Dakota legislators grapple with marijuana rules as implementation date approaches

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Published: Jun. 23, 2021 at 10:20 AM CDT
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PIERRE, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Legislative subcommittees continue to discuss potential rules for both medical and recreational marijuana as the July 1 implementation date looms.

Lawmakers are struggling to come up with rules to help guide the installation of medical marijuana, WNAX reports.

During a subcommittee hearing this week, Senator V.J. Smith of Brookings said there are major outstanding issues with IM 26, the voter-approved measure legalizing medical marijuana in the state. He questioned how much voters knew about the measure, and said it points to a larger problem with South Dakota’s citizen initiated measure system.

“No one knows how many voters actually knew what was in the bill, or in the measure. We’ve heard people say they were clueless, and all this other stuff,” Smith said. “But it’s a teachable moment about this whole process of initiated measures, and the length, and all the other. I think we have to do our best to say this is what was passed, there’s some problems that got to get worked, maybe now, maybe later. I don’t know.”

Though medical marijuana is set to become legal in South Dakota next week, it will likely not be widely available until the fall. The Department of Health says it will announce the process to obtain medical marijuana cards by the end of October.

Recreational marijuana faces an even more uncertain future. Voters approved Amendment A in November, legalizing recreational pot in the state. However, a judge blocked that measure following a lawsuit initiated by Gov. Kristi Noem. The South Dakota Supreme Court heard arguments on the case last month, and a decision is expected to come soon.

Despite the uncertainty, the “Adult Use Marijuana Study” subcommittee met in Pierre Tuesday to discuss possible guidelines in the event recreational marijuana does become legal.

During the hearing, Clay County States Attorney Alexis Tracy told the committee there are a number of questions around both medical and recreational marijuana, particularly when it comes to public safety. She said state law enforcement is caught between federal laws and initiatives passed by voters.

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