PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — People who are 21 and older could possess and use marijuana in South Dakota under a measure recommended Wednesday by a panel of state lawmakers.
The Legislature’s Marijuana Study Committee voted 14-10 to endorse the proposed bill.
“It is only the beginning,” Representative Mark Willadsen said.
The package now goes to the Legislature’s Executive Board for a decision whether it should be introduced in the 2022 session that opens in January. The board appointed the marijuana committee.
The panel also decided 20-4 to keep South Dakota’s medical-cannabis program in place, rather than repealing it for those 21 and older.
The legislators voted 16-8 to recommend that state government charge a 15% excise tax on transactions between processors, manufacturers and dispensaries, based on the average market price as determined by the state Department of Revenue.
State and local sales taxes also would apply at the retail level.
Meanwhile, the South Dakota Supreme Court is considering whether Constitutional Amendment A should take effect. Amendment A would legalize marijuana for people age 21 and older in South Dakota.
Governor Kristi Noem challenged Amendment A’s validity after voters had approved it 54-46% in the November 2020 election.
That day voters also approved Initiated Measure 26 legalizing medical marijuana for anyone 70-30%, which Noem also opposed but didn’t challenge in court.
Representative Hugh Bartels is vice-chairman of the marijuana study panel. He said Wednesday the Legislature won’t act on the adult-use proposal if the Supreme Court rules in favor of Amendment A.
Willadsen said there’s no timetable for the justices to deliver a decision. “It could be next summer. It could be tomorrow,” he said.
The adult-use proposal would legalize possession of one ounce or less of marijuana by a person 21 or older and reduce other penalties for possession of marijuana by a person 21 or older.
For example, possession of more than one ounce to four ounces of marijuana by a person 21 or older would become a class 2 misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in county jail and a $500 fine. Currently possession of two ounces or less is a class 1 misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and up to $2,000 in fines.
There also would be penalties for possession by people younger than 21.
The proposal wouldn’t allow home-grown marijuana, however. Both 2020 ballot measures did. An attempt to allow up to six plants failed Wednesday 8-16.
“Home grown cannot be regulated,” Representative Rhonda Milstead said.
The state Department of Health must start issuing medical-cannabis cards to patients and designated caregivers no later than November 18.