The governor of South Dakota signed a bill into law that asserts the right of qualifying patients to grow their own cannabis at home.

Gov. Kristi Noem put her signature to SB 24 despite her misgivings about South Dakota’s medical marijuana program, which was established by a voter-approved ballot measure on Election Day 2020.

That initiative – Measure 26 – permits qualifying patients to possess, grow and purchase marijuana for medical purposes. However, since that successful vote, House lawmakers have twice voted for legislation that would remove provisions from South Dakota’s medical marijuana bill that allow patients to cultivate cannabis. A South Dakota Senate committee voted against this House-approved bill.

“Permitting limited home cultivation provides patients with the ability to have reliable, affordable, and consistent access to their medicine,” said NORML’s Deputy Director Paul Armentano. “Seventy percent of voters approved this right at the ballot box and it is reassuring to see that a majority of lawmakers, and the Governor, ultimately decided to respect the voters’ decision.”

SB 24 was subject to amendments in committee, but as passed allows registered medical cannabis patients to grow and harvest four marijuana plants at home, two of which must be seedlings.

This isn’t the only medical cannabis-related legislation signed into law by Gov. Noem this session. She enacted SB 6 into law which prohibits school administrators and landlords from discriminating against people on the basis of medical cannabis use, SB 7 which ensures individuals are not denied custody or visiting rights due to being an MMJ cardholder, and SB 15 which protects medical marijuana patients from losing professional licensure as a result of their cannabis use.

Another bill – SB 151 – that would facilitate automatic expungements of some cannabis-related criminal records has cleared the legislature and is currently awaiting the governor’s signature.

Gov. Noem’s openness to protecting medical marijuana patients and expanding their access to the plant is in stark contrast to her staunch opposition to recreational cannabis legalization.

On top of the medical cannabis ballot initiative, South Dakota voters also approved a proposal to legalize adult-use marijuana on Election Day 2020. Noem’s administration funded a lawsuit against the measure on the basis that it broke the state’s one-subject rule for constitutional amendments, an argument which was ultimately deemed valid by South Dakota’s Supreme Court. The recreational ballot vote was therefore overturned, and the Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal lodged by the group behind the measure.

More recently, a Senate-approved bill to legalize recreational cannabis in the state was rejected in committee by House lawmakers.

About the Author: Matt Brooks

Matt is a journalist from San Francisco who has specialized in marijuana policy for more than six years.

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