Governor Kristi Noem wants another year to develop a medical marijuana program.
South Dakota voters overwhelmingly approved a ballot measure last year. The law would go into effect July first. Noem’s office says that’s not enough time.
Governor Noem says the state needs to create a new medical marijuana program safely and correctly. She says an additional year gives people enough time to make that happen
House lawmakers introduced legislation to push back the implementation date and set up a legislative task force to study the program approved by voters. Meantime there is a court challenge against the other marijuana ballot measure - Amendment A – that legalized recreational cannabis.
Republican Representative Kent Peterson is the majority leader in the House. He says it’s their intention to honor the will of the voters.
“As we’re hearing from the people within the agencies in charge of implementing this… it takes time,” Peterson says. “As we’ve seen in other states, it’s taken 18 months up to four years to implement something like this. IT’s no different in South Dakota. With the pending litigation out there on Constitutional Amendment A as well, that’s also another factor in that. The main reason is it takes time. They need time. We need a safe and workable solution for the people of South Dakota.”
The state is working with a consulting firm that it says recommends pushing back implementation
The state has NOT consulted with the group that advocated for medical marijuana about delaying the program.
Melissa Mentele is the president of New Approach South Dakota. She says asking medical marijuana patients to wait goes against the will of the voters.
“We have so many people that have waited so so long, and we have so many children that need access now,” Mentele says. “We’ve taken this bill to every corner of South Dakota. People went to the polls knowing what they were voting for and they were voting for a July 1st access date. Delaying it is devastating.”
Mentele says if lawmakers vote to delay the state’s medical marijuana program she hopes to hear from them and participate in the task force study. She says that could assure the perspectives of potential cannabis patients are fairly represented.