Initiative petitions are due in the Secretary of State’s office in Pierre by November 6. New Approach needs at least 13,871 signatures from registered voters on each petition to put each issue to a public vote.
John Dale of Spearfish, who maintains a webpage titled “Cannabis Consumers for Liberty,” has submitted an initiated measure to decriminalize cannabis. Dale’s first draft caught heck from LRC for all-caps, incomplete sentences, and too many powerless declarations and findings. Dale’s second draft hews closer to standard South Dakota initiative format. It appears to remove all legal penalties for possession, sale, or use of marijuana. Among items that will kill that second draft in my book are Section 17, which declares April 20 “Cannabis Day” in South Dakota; Section 20, which strikes SDHSAA penalties for students who use marijuana; Sections 37, 39, and 40, which remove the restriction on driving under the influence of marijuana; Sections 47 and 48, which makes the same unwise error of allowing boaters to use marijuana; and several sections that appear to remove abuse of marijuana from considerations of custody and parental rights but not abuse of alcohol. On the latter, I would contend that if the state can deem a person too drunk to parent, the state should also be able to deem a person too stoned to parent.
On the good side, Dale’s Section 39 includes a repeal of the state’s torturous practice of forced catheterization. Section 39 would amend SDCL 32-23-10, which currently deems operating a motor vehicle as giving consent to “to the withdrawal of blood or other bodily substance and chemical analysis of the person’s blood, breath, or other bodily substance” to test for intoxicants, to allow only “external capture of urine and any chemical analysis of the person’s breath, hair, fecal matter, or urine.” No forced drawing of urine or blood—John Dale! Drop everything else and circulate a petition just for that section!
Dale’s proposal does not appear to go into the same detail on licensing and taxing marijuana production and sales as the cannabis regulation initiative proposed by New Approach South Dakota. The New Approach initiative imposes excise taxes and distributes revenue by specific percentages to education, health, law enforcement, and the general fund. Dale’s proposal specifies no licensing or taxation scheme, but Section 12 grants whatever revenues may come from the proposal to small farmers for “early-stage, high-risk local agriculture, new venture, and research and development.” None of those terms are defined.
SB 95 appears to allow far broader use of cannabidiol than a 2016 bill that would have opened the door for using cannabidiol to treat children with epilepsy. I notice the following differences in the debate over the two bills:
Last year, the only proponents who testified on SB 95 were a couple of parents who use cannabidiol to treat their kids’ illnesses. This year, along with several parents and advocates, three lobbyists for U.K.-based GW Pharmaceuticals and its U.S. operating unit Greenwich Biosciences spoke in favor of SB 95.
Last year, when the more restrictive cannabidiol bill went before House Health and Human Services, Attorney General Marty Jackley testified against the bill. This year, Attorney General Jackley attended the first SB 95 hearing but only sat quietly behind the lobbyists for Greenwich Biosciences.
Last year’s bill gave a detailed scientific definition of cannabidiol: “a nonpsychoactive cannabinoid found in the plant cannabis sativa L. or cannabis indica or any other preparation thereof that is essentially free from plant material, and has a tetrahydroconnabinol level of no more than three percent.” SB 95 defers to the feds and defines cannabidiol simply as “a drug product approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration.” An amendment yesterday added the word “product”.