Making clear that they have no intention of respecting the will of the voters, not to mention that the initiative process is insufficient to check the excesses of an overbearing one-party state government, Governor Kristi Noem and the Legislature are planning to delay the implementation of Initiated Measure 26, the medical marijuana law 70% of voters approved in November. South Dakotans said they’re ready for medical marijuana, but the Snow Queen says no, you silly voters, you’re not:
“We are working diligently to get IM 26 implemented safely and correctly,” said Governor Kristi Noem. “The feasibility of getting this program up and running well will take additional time. I am thankful to our legislative leaders for helping make sure that we do this right.”
The plan would add a year of additional flexibility on the implementation timeline and create an interim committee to meet and recommend solutions before next legislative session.
The state of South Dakota has consulted with industry experts Cannabis Public Policy Consulting (CPPC). CPPC has not seen a successful implementation of a medicinal marijuana program in just 8 months, the timeframe IM 26 currently requires. Some states take more than two years for successful implementation. To address this, the implementation plan adds additional flexibility to the timeline. This will allow the State of South Dakota to address several policy concerns and additional rules regarding IM 26 [Gov. Kristi Noem, press release, 2021.02.11].
Responding to the Snow Queen’s wishes, Representative Spencer Gosch (R-23/Glenham) is stuffing one of his hoghouse vehicle bills, House Bill 1100, with an amendment to delay and dismantle Initiated Measure 26.
Now keep in mind, had IM 26 passed in 2016, it would have taken effect almost immediately, right after the final official canvass of the votes eight days after the election. But in 2017, the Legislature passed 2017 SB 59 to delay the enactment of voter-approved initiatives by seven and a half months, until July 1 of the following year. The Legislature had no evidence that, in over a century of passing initiatives, South Dakotans had had any difficulty enacting those laws the same month they were approved. Even since passage of 2017 SB 59, Republicans have demonstrated they have no problem with hurrying initiatives they like into effect within a month of the popular vote. The Legislature just wanted one more opportunity to insert itself into and sabotage the initiative process. Delaying enactment until July 1 was a plain power grab, allowing the Legislature to meet in full, regular Session and amend or repeal initiatives at its leisure, before they take effect.
2021 House Bill 1100 shows the full, nasty effect of the Legislature’s specious delay of initiative enactment. HB 1100 prefaces its attack on our expressed popular will with a bluster of “findings” that go well beyond the Governor’s claim that we just need time to properly implement medical marijuana. HB 1100 invokes Amendment A, which Governor Noem’s lawyers got Governor Noem’s Sixth Circuit appointee Judge Christine Klinger to overturn Monday, as a source of regulatory uncertainty that prevents proper enactment of IM 26. HB 1100 invokes the coronavirus pandemic, which hasn’t been bad enough get the Governor to stop traveling across the country and wear a mask, as a pressing crisis that prevents the Department of Health from turning its attention to proper implementation of IM 26. HB 1100 invokes the continued federal prohibition on marijuana as a reason South Dakota can’t act on IM 26… even as the same Legislature considers multiple bills that declare South Dakota can ignore federal laws and Presidential orders.
Then HB 1100 goes to work rewriting Initiative Measure 26:
- Section 2 through 5 delay enactment of all IM 26 provisions by at least a year.
- Section 6 delays indefinitely implementation of a policy allowing registered students to take their cannabis-derived medicine at school.
- Section 7 empanels an interim marijuana committee, with members to be picked the Republican Governor, the Republican Speaker of the House, the Republican Senate President Pro-Tem, and the Republican Attorney General.
- Section 8 authorizes the interim marijuana committee to research and evaluate marijuana policies and recommend legislation for the 2022 Session, during which the Legislature will get another crack at really tearing apart Initiated Measure 22.
Death by delay—that’s what the Legislature intended in 2017 when it moved enactment of initiatives from November to July. Death by delay—that’s now what the Governor and the Legislature get to do to Initiated Measure 26. No pot this year, recreational or medical, and no pot ever… at least not until the Republicans and their business friends figure out how to corner the market and keep any marijuana entrepreneurs corralled in their one-party regime.