South Dakota legislative board accepts committee’s reports on marijuana

PIERRE, S.D. —A legislative summer study committee on marijuana in South Dakota reached its late-autumn finish line this week, with the executive board voting to accept its report.

The committee, chaired by Sen. Bryan Breitling, R-Miller, drafted nearly two dozen pieces of legislation that would tweak the state’s medical marijuana program and will likely emerge in the upcoming session in Pierre. The summer study committee also adopted an adult use bill, which Breitling said would be brought as a fail-safe in case if and when the state supreme court upholds a lower court injunction against the voter-approved Amendment A.

“Marijuana is still illegal nationally,” Breitling told the executive board on Wednesday, Nov. 17. “However, 35 states have already passed some form of legalization.”

The 15-member e-board’s vote to accept the report did not represent endorsement of any of the draft legislation, observed House Speaker and board chair, Spencer Gosch.

“We’re just adopting a report,” said Gosch, R-Glenham.

The summer study committee broke into two separate committees, on adult use and medical cannabis, ultimately voting for bills that would cap home-grow to 3 plants and allow schools to pass policies denying children access to smokable cannabis during school hours on campus, among various other provisions.

The committees took testimony from legal and health experts, as well as advocates for the cannabis industry and local leaders.

“I know that philosophically (Breitling is) kind of where I am on this topic,” said Senate Pro Tempore Lee Schoenbeck, R-Watertown, thanks the summer study chair for his work. “(It’s) kind of weird to be in a position helping to propose legislation that’s going to authorize something you might not be all that keen on.”

Over 70% of South Dakotans approved medical cannabis program at the ballot box in 2020. On a separate vote to legalize recreational adult use, 54% of the state’s voters approved the constitutional amendment.

The South Dakota legislature gavels in on Tuesday, Jan. 11, for the 2022 legislative session.

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