Adult-Use Cannabis Debate Continues in South Dakota This Year
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Adult-Use Cannabis Debate Continues in South Dakota This Year

Lawmakers will consider several proposed bills on medical and adult-use cannabis when the 2022 legislative session starts Jan. 11.

January 5, 2022

South Dakota lawmakers will continue their debate on adult-use cannabis legalization and fine-tuning the state’s medical cannabis program when the 2022 legislative session starts Jan. 11.

More than two dozen of the 38 posted proposed bills for the session focus on cannabis, according to an AP News report.

South Dakota voters made history in the 2020 election when they approved measures to legalize both medical and adult-use cannabis, but the state’s Supreme Court overturned the adult-use initiative in November 2021.

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Lawmakers have taken steps to implement the medical cannabis program, and the state began issuing its first medical cannabis ID cards to patients in November, according to AP News.

Meanwhile, the 24-member Marijuana Interim Study Committee studied cannabis legalization last year, and in October, it sent an adult-use legalization proposal to the South Dakota Legislature, which was ultimately adopted by the Legislature’s executive board in November.

That proposal, a 30-page bill now known as Senate Bill 3, would legalize the possession of one ounce or less of cannabis for adults 21 and older, as well as reduce other penalties for possession.

“We drafted that bill just so there would be some research on the shelf in a way to regulate marijuana,” Rep. Hugh Bartels, a prime sponsor of the legislation, told KELO.

Bartels also told the news outlet that he would not be surprised if the Legislature delays action on S.B. 3 for another year.

In the meantime, South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws (SDBML) is currently gathering signatures for its proposed 2022 adult-use cannabis legalization initiative, and the campaign had collected more than 15,000 signatures as of early December. The campaign needs roughly 17,000 valid signatures to qualify its initiative for the 2022 ballot, but is aiming to collect 25,000 total signatures to provide a safety net in case some of the signatures are not validated.

Bartels told KELO that many of the bills related to medical cannabis aim to clean up of correct language included in the 2020 law.

“I look at all the bills coming through the State Senate as ‘clean up bills,’” State Rep. Fred Deutsch, who served on the Marijuana Interim Study Committee, told KEVN. “They are the result of the summer study, and are pretty much just low hanging fruit."