South Dakota lawmakers want to remove provisions from a voter-approved medical marijuana ballot measure that would permit patients to grow their own cannabis at home.
Members of the congressional Medical Marijuana Study Subcommittee formally recommended that language allowing for patients to grow up to three plants for personal use be rescinded from the final legislation. This would need to be approved by a majority of House and Senate lawmakers in order to take effect.
One of the subcommittee members, Rep. Carl Perry (R-Aberdeen), said the recommendation was in line with the approach taken in many other states that legalized medical cannabis, highlighting that more than a dozen have chosen to prohibit home-grows for qualifying patients.
“We’re not here to say no to marijuana. What we’re here doing is making sure it’s good (policy),” Perry said.
Another member, Rep. Fred Deutsch (R-Florence), said the recommendation was about ensuring unlicensed cannabis doesn’t find its way onto the black market, and to prevent the homes of medical marijuana patients becoming the target of criminals.
“It’s the relationship between home grow and the black market,” Deutch said. “Home grow is probably the key ingredient with the proliferation of crime and the proliferation of the black market.”
The group also recommended that marijuana retailers should have to source their cannabis seeds out of state.
South Dakota voters approved Initiated Measure 26 on Election Day 2020 by a margin of 40 percent, which compelled lawmakers to pass legislation legalizing access to medical cannabis for qualifying patients by July 1, 2020.
Earlier this year, House lawmakers voted to postpone the law taking effect but the move failed amid disagreements with the Senate on conflicting provisions in the final bill. So, medical marijuana became legal in South Dakota at the start of July, with state regulators required to issue identification cards to qualifying patients by May 15, 2022.
This gives medical cannabis advocates in South Dakota hope that the Senate will continue to resist the wholesale changes to the voter-approved medical marijuana measure recommended by the subcommittee.
The second marijuana-related ballot measure approved by South Dakota voters is also under threat. Amendment A received 54 percent of the vote and would legalize possession and sales of recreational cannabis for adults 21 and older.
But it has since been the subject of fierce litigation from Gov. Kristi Noem’s administration, whose case argues the measure should be struck down as unconstitutional since the proposal violated the state’s one-topic rule.
This argument was accepted by a circuit court judge in February, and an appeal was then brought before the state’s Supreme Court in April, but it is yet to deliver a verdict.