South Dakota: Governor Noem Vetoes Marijuana Expungement Legislation

After signing legislation to protect limited home cultivation for patients as well as legislation to protect patients rights, Governor Noem has reversed course and chosen to veto legislation (Senate Bill 151) that would have allowed for the automatic removal of convictions from a person’s background check for marijuana-related offenses.

In an official statement, Gov. Noem rationalized her veto, stating: “[This bill] also essentially codifies a convicted person’s ability to be dishonest about their previous arrest and conviction by not requiring disclosure of the prior drug conviction… This bill is also retroactive, which is bad precedent for criminal justice issues where fairness is paramount. Further, even with the legalization of medical cannabis, there must remain consequences for using illegal drugs at a time when the use and possession of marijuana, even for alleged medical purposes, was illegal.”

Members of the Senate sustained the governor’s veto.

Jax James, NORML’s State Policy Manager, said: “The voters of South Dakota have shown their support for comprehensive marijuana reform by voting to create regulated medical and adult-use markets. Yet, despite the obvious will of the voters, Gov. Noem is intent on perpetuating the failed policies of the past. People with otherwise clean records do not deserve to have the rest of their lives derailed because of a marijuana possession conviction.”