House lawmakers are passing a bill that pushes out implementation of a voter approved medical marijuana program by six months.
It also sets up an interim committee to study that program and how it works within current state law.
Initiated Measure 26 would go into effect on July first of this year. Governor Kristi Noem and legislative leaders initially wanted a full year from that date, to take a closer look at the program.
After meeting with legislative leaders and cabinet secretaries, Noem’s office says six months is sufficient to implement the medical marijuana program safely.
Republican Speaker of the House Spencer Gosch is bringing the bill delaying medical marijuana implementation. He says getting a medical program in place is a large task.
“Arguably a task that cannot be completed in the 37 days on our calendar this year,” Gosch says. “What I’m asking for is more time to be able to do this right to honor the will of the people and to correct some of the mistakes that were done in IM 26.”
Backers of the voter approved measure say it is self-executing.
Melissa Mentele is the president of New Approach South Dakota, one of the groups that backed the medical marijuana ballot question.
Mentele, along with other medical program supporters, said they want to work with lawmakers on the January first implementation program.
They called on lawmakers to add patient protections, while the state figures out how the medical program will look. House lawmakers rejected that idea on the floor.
“It ripped all of that away. We will continue to criminalize patients in South Dakota until 2022.”
The bill now heads to the Senate. Mentele says she hopes the Senate will add those missing protections.