South Dakotans shouldn’t be able to grow marijuana in their homes and cannabis stores should have to buy pot seeds out of state, according to the latest recommendations on state drug policy coming from Pierre.
The recommendations were unveiled Wednesday by a subgroup of the South Dakota Marijuana Summer Study Committee and aim to walk back large provisions of what voters passed through Initiated Measure 26 last November, the ballot question that legalized medical marijuana for qualifying patients and earned passage with a 40% margin.
“We’re not here to say no to marijuana. What we’re here doing is making sure it’s good (policy),” said Rep. Carl Perry, R-Aberdeen, who was among a majority of lawmakers studying cannabis this summer who support making major changes to Chapter 34-20G of South Dakota Codified Law that included repealing legal protections for attorneys marijuana businesses and their attorneys and to allow counties and cities to continue to prohibit cannabis commerce in their jurisdictions.
Supporters of rebooting South Dakota’s prohibition on in-home cultivation point to other states where medical marijuana is legal, noting that more than a dozen other states don’t allow card holders to produce their own cannabis.
And there’s risk that marijuana grown by a private individual could be sold on the black market, or the home where cannabis is being grown could be targeted by criminals, Rep. Fred Deutsch, R-Florence.
“It’s the relationship between home grow and the black market,” he said, citing testimony heard during the committee’s information gathering process . “Home grow is probably the key ingredient with the proliferation of crime and the proliferation of the black market.”
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Any changes to South Dakota’s existing medical marijuana laws that took effect on July 1, though, face steep odds of final approval.
Next, they’ll need to clear the full Marijuana Summer Study Committee. And those that do will then require passage this winter in both the state’s House of Representatives, and the Senate where members last Legislative session vehemently resisted making wholesale changes to what voters passed through IM26.
Sen. Mike Rohl, R-Aberdeen, coordinated a formal resistance to a push from Gov. Kristi Noem to stall the implementation of a medical marijuana program to buy time for an eventual repeal and replace effort. And he told the Argus Leader on Wednesday he’s confident any major modifications proposed during the 2022 legislative session will also fall short.
“I don’t think they have the votes to get anything like that done in the long run,” Rohl said, referring to a ban on in-home cultivation or allow counties and cities to continue entirely prohibit cannabis commerce.
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And even in the House, where chamber members are less enthusiastic about loosening up South Dakota’s marijuana laws, there’s mixed support for the recommendations.
Rep. Taylor Rehfeldt, R-Sioux Falls, serves on the medical marijuana subgroup established by the summer study committee. She said she can’t in good conscience sign onto changes that reduce patient access or run directly counter to the intent of voters when they adopted IM26.
She did, however, support allowing counties and cities to opt out of medical cannabis, a vote she cast because of some parts of the state not favoring legal medical marijuana.
“I’ll always try to maintain the intent of IM26 while considering the needs of Sioux Falls and the entire state,” Rehfledt said. “I voted for local control, partly because I know there are rural communities who did not pass medical marijuana with a majority and I’m trying to consider their needs.”