Medical Cannabis Supporters Want To Cut State Delay In Half

Feb 22, 2021


The group that backed the voter approved medical marijuana ballot question wants to compromise with the state on implementing the program. 

The state and legislative leaders want the summer to work on the program, with the goal of implementing it in July of 2022. Medical marijuana proponents say the program needs to start months earlier. 

The Department of Health is tasked with drafting rules for a medical marijuana program. Although voted on in November, the medical marijuana measure was written before the coronavirus pandemic. 

Medical cannabis backers say they agree delaying the implementation of the program is justified. However, they say the state should have a year to put a program in place, not a year and a half or longer.  

South Dakotans for Better Marijuana laws is proposing the compromise. They also say prospective patients should be allowed to possess and cultivate cannabis starting July first of this year.  

Matthew Schweich is with the Marijuana Policy Project, which helped with the campaign on Initiated Measure 26. He says the current bill freezes what 70 percent of South Dakotans approved, then empowering an interim committee to re-write the law. 

“That’s not our approach,” Schweich says. “Our approach is to implement measure 26 as written while providing flexibility for the legislature to extend deadlines later if absolutely necessary.” 

Two weeks ago, Governor Kristi Noem and Republican legislative leaders announced a plan to delay implementation of Initiated Measure 26.  

Gary Cammack is the majority leader in the Senate. He says the legislature wants to get a program implemented. 

“To make sure we do it safely and correctly the first time and that’s the only reason that we’re asking for the flexibility for the additional time.” 

House lawmakers are expected to vote on the bill  some time this week.