South Dakota Adult-Use Bill Defeated; Ballot Measure’s Weight Amplifies
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South Dakota Adult-Use Bill Defeated; Ballot Measure’s Weight Amplifies

A House committee voted down the Senate-approved legislation, meaning a citizen-led initiative is the most likely route to legalization in 2022.

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February 28, 2022

As 54.2% of South Dakota voters are still waiting on their 2020 ballots to sway public cannabis policy, state lawmakers have indicated adult-use legalization isn’t high on their priority list.

South Dakota House State Affairs Committee members voted 8-3 on Feb. 28 to delay consideration of Senate Bill 3 to March 29—one day after the state Legislature’s 2022 session ends—essentially killing the adult-use legalization effort for all intended purposes.

The legislation, which passed the Senate via an 18-17 vote last week, aims to legalize up to 1 ounce of cannabis for those 21 and older.

RELATED: South Dakota Senate Clears Adult-Use Bill by Slimmest Margin

Although the bill is unlikely to progress in the House this year, advocacy group South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws (SDBML) released a statement on social media that said there’s still a chance.

“S.B. 3 was just defeated in the SD House State Affairs Committee in an 8-3 vote that demonstrates the political establishment’s disdain for the will of the people,” SDBML officials said in the statement. “But this fight is not over. A group of 24 state representatives can still force a bill to the floor of the House (this is called a "smokeout"). We will keep working to pass legalization until the very end of the session.”

Among 70 members of the South Dakota House, six Republicans and two Democrats sponsor S.B. 3.

SDBML sponsored voter-approved Amendment A, the 2020 ballot measure that was struck down by a circuit court judge on the basis of the state’s single-subject rule. The South Dakota Supreme Court upheld that decision in November 2021.

SDBML campaign director Matthew Schweich previously told Cannabis Business Times the group would suspend its 2022 ballot initiative should legislation to legalize adult-use cannabis become law in the state.

Until then, SDBML will continue collecting signatures and advocating through the initiative process, he said.