Last year, voters in South Dakota approved both medicinal marijuana and the use of recreational marijuana by adults 21 years of age and older. However, there are still legal battles unfolding and regulations to be developed before either of those measures become a reality.
What does that mean for the future of marijuana in this state? It’s hard to say.
Amendment A is under appeal
Roughly six months after Amendment A passed, residents of this state still don’t know if their votes to legalize recreational marijuana will prevail.
The battle over the constitutionality of Amendment A was escalated to the South Dakota Supreme Court several months ago, but no decision has been issued — and South Dakotans could be waiting several more months before there is a ruling.
Medical marijuana regulations may be revamped
Meanwhile, the legislature’s Medical Marijuana Study Subcommittee has been quietly working on changes that they want to propose to Initiated Measure 26, which was approved by an overwhelming majority of voters in the 2020 election.
Any changes they submit would go before a special session of the legislature in November of this year. However, the process and the potential proposals are entirely opaque at this time.
None of this is surprising
If you’ve been following the controversy, none of the pushback against marijuana legalization should be surprising. Governor Kristi Noem has been a fierce opponent of any kind of marijuana legalization all along, and she is now the driving force behind much of the opposition to the changes voters approved.
Residents would be well-advised to remember that South Dakota is still a remarkably conservative state. While state police and the police in Minnehaha County are now largely choosing to forgo arrests for low-level marijuana possession, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re safe from prosecution everywhere you go.
When the law is in flux, it pays to be cautious. If you do find yourself charged with a drug offense, be proactive about your defense.