It’s been a wild ride toward legalized marijuana in South Dakota.
In the November election, South Dakota voters approved two separate measures to do away with the state’s nearly century-old prohibition on pot.
Initiated Measure 26 legalized medical marijuana with about 70% of ballots cast in favor. At the same time, Constitutional Amendment A to legalize recreational marijuana also earned support from a majority of South Dakotans, with about 54% of all ballots cast favoring the end of pot prohibition in the state.
But a future in South Dakota with legalized marijuana quickly came under fire by Gov. Kristi Noem, who used the courts to block recreational marijuana and the influence of her office to pressure the Legislature to stand in the way of medical marijuana.
Today, IM 26 stands to take effect this summer, and Constitutional Amendment A is tied up in court.
Medical marijuana in South Dakota
Barring a special session of the state Legislature and subsequent action, legal medical marijuana will become a reality in about 100 days.
Based on codified law currently on the South Dakota rule books, the Department of Health has 180 days, or six months, from July 1 to open up an application process for both medical marijuana cards and licenses for both commercial growers and sellers of medical cannabis.
Medical marijuana start date
As it stands, using marijuana for legitimate medical use will be legal in South Dakota on July 1. But retail marijuana likely won’t come online until well into 2022.
Have South Dakota dispensaries been set up?
No. Under Initiated Measure 26, the Department of Health is directed to begin accepting applications for prospective marijuana retailers. In the interim, the state will craft rules and regulations around the issuance and possession of medical marijuana retail licenses.
Recreational marijuana: Where are we with Amendment A?
After a Noem-supported lawsuit challenging the legality of Amendment A proved successful in a Hughes County court, attorneys representing the organizations responsible for putting recreational marijuana to a public vote appealed to the South Dakota Supreme Court.
The case is pending.
More about marijuana issues in South Dakota:
Marijuana decriminalization in South Dakota
Marijuana is still entirely prohibited until July 1. Beyond that, using, possessing or growing it without a legitimate medical need will continue to be a crime in South Dakota.
Efforts by lawmakers during the 2021 legislative session to decriminalize cannabis fell short.
What happened since marijuana was legalized by voters: A timeline
The fate of Initiated Measure 26 wasn’t in question until last month when Noem and House Speaker Spencer Gosch, R-Mobridge, hatched a plan to stave off medical marijuana. Through House Bill 1100, carried into Legislature by Gosch, the governor sought to change the law voters passed four months earlier so that it wouldn’t take effect until 2022, a year later than what passed through the ballot box. It also called for a 10-member task force to be handpicked by Noem that would “fix” IM 26.
But public outcry ensued with allegations that Noem and Gosch were subverting the will and intent of the voters with HB 1100, and the delay was aimed at buying more time for Noem to eventually repeal and replace South Dakota’s new medical marijuana law.
HB 1100 sailed through the House of Representatives with little resistance. But was killed last week after the Senate tried to claw back some of what voters thought they were getting after they cast their ballots in November.