Friday, November 25, 2022

South Dakota Legalization Bill Still In Game Following ‘Smoke Out’ Vote On House Floor

Voters in South Dakota approved legalization during the 2020 elections. However, the reform was canceled by the state Supreme Court following a challenge from Gov. Kristi Noem’s administration.

By Jelena Martinovic

A bill to legalize marijuana has ended up on the South Dakota House floor just one day after a committee defeated it.

The SB 3, passed last week by Senate in an 18-17 vote, was brought back for consideration by a coalition of 24 South Dakota House members on Tuesday, Marijuana Moment reported.

South Dakota State Capitol Building
Photo by powerofforever/Getty Images

The lawmakers utilized a legislative maneuver known as a “smoke out.”

House Speaker Spencer Gosch (R) called for members wishing to revive the bill to stand up. Once enough members stood, he said that “we just smoked out a weed bill.”

Even though activists are still pursuing the idea of the reform being enacted legislatively, they are open to going to the ballot once again this November, in a scenario where lawmakers fail to act.

“This is an encouraging outcome today,” Matthew Schweich, director of South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws (SDBML), told Marijuana Moment. “It’s clear that members of the South Dakota House of Representatives are listening to their constituents who are demanding that the will of the people be restored.”

The House floor action on the legalization bill approved by the Senate is expected to happen on Wednesday and would require a simple majority of 36 votes to pass the chamber.

What’s In The Bill?

Once enacted into law, the bill, sponsored by Sen. Michael Rohl (R), would allow adults 21 and older to purchase and possess up to one ounce of cannabis from licensed retailers.

The proposal would not permit home cultivation that was on a ballot measure for which activists have been collecting signatures.

RELATED: South Dakota Senate Green-Lights Cannabis Legalization & Expungement Bills

Voters in South Dakota approved legalization during the 2020 elections. However, the reform was canceled by the state Supreme Court following a challenge from Gov. Kristi Noem’s (R) administration.

According to Circuit Judge Christina Klinger’s ruling from last February, which the Supreme Court backed, the initiative violated a requirement that constitutional amendments can deal with just one subject.

Under the new proposal, the state’s adult-use program would be regulated by the state Department of Revenue, which will also put rules related to issues such as transportation and registration into effect.

Local municipalities would be able to opt-out of allowing cannabis businesses within their jurisdiction.

In addition, those with a past felony conviction would not be allowed to hold a cannabis business license.

marijuana legalization
Photo by RODNAE Productions from Pexels

Gov. Noem’s Mixed Messages

On the heels of the Senate approving the measure, signals coming from Gov. Kristi Noem (R) suggested that she could veto the bill when/if the legislature delivers it to her desk.

Moreover, she expressed skepticism regarding the voters’ support for the reform.

RELATED: South Dakota’s Supreme Strikes Down Recreational Cannabis Vote, Overturning People’s Will

Many thought the governor’s response as to whether she’d veto the measure was confusing: “It’s hard to talk in hypotheticals,” she said, adding that she’s not in favor of recreational marijuana.

“I still believe I haven’t seen anybody get smarter from smoking dope,” Noem said, yet adding that she has “supported medical marijuana for years.”

This article originally appeared on Benzinga and has been reposted with permission.

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