South Dakota: Governor Announces Intent to Delay Implementing Voter-Initiated Medical Marijuana Access Law

Measure 26 Would Legalize Medical Marijuana in South Dakota

Despite South Dakota residents voting in favor of implementing Measure 26 on Election Day, an initiative whose purpose was to legalize medical marijuana across the state, South Dakota’s governing bodies have announced a year-long delay on implementing the measure statewide.

In a statement released on Wednesday, Republican governor Kirsti Noem stated that while she was going to honor her promise to legalize cannabis in the state, this will take until July 1 2022 to implement fully.

The original initiative was designed to have medical marijuana legalized by July 1 2021. Since announcing this delay, the Republican administration of South Dakota has received scrutiny for not upholding the original schedule.

“The policy is detailed and based on best practices from other states,” said a spokesperson for the Measure 26 campagin in response to the announcement. “The legislature does not need to change Measure 26; we wrote a complete policy. All they need to do is respect the will of the people and allow the state to implement a medical marijuana program for qualifying patients.”

State Democrats are also not pleased with the announcement from the governor. “The fact that they are dragging their feet on [the implementation of Measure 26] is really frustrating,” said state House Democratic Leader Jamie Smith.

The State of Cannabis Legalization in South Dakota

In November of last year, South Dakotan voters voted in favor of two measures to implement marijuana legalization: the aforementioned Measure 26 and Amendment A, whose purpose was to fully legalize the adult use of cannabis statewide. Passing Measure 26 and Amendment A could create a unique situation in U.S. marijuana legalization, as South Dakota would become the first state in the union to legalize both medical and adult-use marijuana simultaneously. 

The incumbent governor Noem campaigned against both of these initiatives; despite her efforts, both of these were passed with enough votes. Since passing, governor Noem has been working with Cannabis Public Policy Consulting to implement these initiatives.

The past week has seen pushback against both of these initiatives; however on Monday, a South Dakotan circuit court ruled to nullify Amendment A, citing the Amendment’s violation of the state’s “single subject rule” requirement.

Despite the best efforts of the Republican establishment to curtail cannabis legalization in the state, advocates of Amendment A are planning on appealing the ruling to the state’s Supreme Court.

As for Measure 26, the decision to delay could be final.

go top