South Dakota: Republican-Led Committee Rejects Senate-Backed Adult-Use Legalization Measure

South Dakota marijuana laws

[3/03/22 Update: After 24 members of the House moved to revive the bill, using a procedural maneuver that brings it to the floor, SB was once again defeated in a 40-28 floor vote.] Members of the House State Affairs Committee have voted down Senate-backed legislation, SB 3, that sought to allow for the personal possession and retail sale of marijuana by adults. Members in the Republican-led committee voted 8-3 today to defeat the measure. Previously this session, House members rejected a similar adult-use legalization bill on the floor by a vote of 36 to 31.

Commenting on the vote, NORML’s Deputy Director Paul Armentano said, “Lawmakers in South Dakota continue to put their own self-interests ahead of those of their constituents — the majority of whom wish to see the criminalization of cannabis replaced with a system of legalization and regulation. Lawmakers’ failure to advance this issue is a slap in the face to the majority of voters who made their voices heard in the last election.”

In November 2020, the majority of South Dakota voters decided in favor of a citizen-initiated measure (Constitutional Amendment A) legalizing the adult-use possession and sale of cannabis. However, shortly following the vote, Republican Gov. Kristi Noem facilitated litigation seeking to strike down the law as unconstitutional. In December, Justices on the South Dakota Supreme Court ruled 4 to 1 that the amendment “violated the single subject requirement in the South Dakota Constitution.”

In a post to Facebook issued immediately after the hearing, the group South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws said that the “vote that demonstrates the political establishment’s disdain for the will of the people.” They added, however, “[T]his 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.”

The group is also engaging in an effort “to qualify a recreational cannabis legalization initiative for this year’s November ballot … in the event that the South Dakota Legislature fails to pass a recreational legalization bill.”

Additional information is available from South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws.