RAPID CITY, S.D. — South Dakota legislators are in for an extensive 2022 legislative session.
State lawmakers will look to answer many issues facing South Dakota, starting with coming up with objectives and guidelines for the medical marijuana program.
However, the legislature could also look to legalize recreational marijuana outright with Senate Bill 3.
Legislators say that legalizing recreational marijuana now, as opposed to leaving it up to a vote of the people, would help the state get its guidelines for the potential program together, regardless if it’s put on the ballot in November and voted on by the people of South Dakota.
“You get to really look at rules and regulations that you may want to put in place in regards to this and have a complete package when you’re done at the end of the legislative session,” said District 34 Representative Mike Derby.
That task could prove to be tough, as what’s seen as a divided house and with Governor Noem’s general opposition to the legalization of marijuana.
However, the governor says that she carefully looks over and considers each bill as it comes to her desk before she signs or vetoes the respective legislation.
“We’ve seen very good bills come to my desk that I’ve signed that I don’t necessarily agree with,” Governor Noem said. “I would say the sports gaming issue is something that I wasn’t a big fan of. But I also see very flawed bills come to my desk that because they’re drafted poorly, have huge consequences for our state that I haven’t signed.”
South Dakota lawmakers say that after recreational marijuana was voted down by the South Dakota State Supreme Court, they began laying groundwork to get ahead of the curve while also carefully putting together Senate Bill 3.
“We were preparing a bill in lieu of in the event that this happened that it was overturned, so that that we could effectively support the will of the people and and develop a recreational marijuana program for the state of South Dakota,” said District 15 Representative Linda Duba.
As for the SD House of Representatives, it’s said that legislators are split over their voting decision as it pertains to recreational marijuana.
“I think it’s about half and half situation, but it’s got to get out of committee first, so that’s our biggest concern,” Rep. Duba said.
Senate Bill 3, according to legislators deals with the legislation, criminal code and regulatory system.
“It was something we thought we needed to look into so we had a mechanism that would make sense to regulate marijuana and to make it safe,” said District 5 Representative Hugh Bartels.
Still, several legislators told NewsCenter1 that a bill legalizing recreational marijuana is not likely to reach the governor’s desk this term.