Press "Enter" to skip to content

Noem’s Bill Delaying Medical Marijuana Violates Single-Subject Rule?

House State Affairs passed the first step in undoing Initiated Measure 26 on Wednesday. The committee heard and approved Speaker Spencer Gosch’s (R-23/Glenham) hoghouse amendment to House Bill 1100, which now does Governor Kristi Noem’s dirty work of delaying the legalization of medical marijuana in South Dakota. 70% of South Dakota voters said in November that they want access to medical marijuana by July 1, but after defeating the voters’ other marijuana measure, Amendment A, in court this month, the Snow Queen said her minions can’t implement medical marijuana laws that fast. HB 1100 thus puts off implementation of medical marijuana for another year, giving the Legislature a whole nother Session to come up with ways to tangle the voters will in red tape, obstructionism, and maybe more courtroom capers.

But hey, I notice that HB 1100 doesn’t just change the implementation dates in IM 26. As I noted last week, HB 1100 as hoghoused out also creates a new pot supercommittee. The Interim Marijuana Committee would get to investigate numerous topics: medical marijuana programs, licensing programs, market regulation and black markets, marijuana cultivation practices, local regulations, taxing schemes…. HB 1100 authorizes this new committee to spend money and present “any recommended legislation” to the Legislature for the 2022 Session.

Boy, HB 1100 appears to embrace a lot of subjects.

Wait… who’s that I hear coming down the hall… Ah, Judge Klinger, what brings you here?

The South Dakota Supreme Court has interpreted Article III, § 21 of the South Dakota Constitution, which contains a single subject rule pertaining to legislative enactments. It states: “No law shall embrace more than one subject, which shall be expressed in the title” [link added; Judge Christina Klinger, opinion, RE: 32CIV20-187: Thom and Miller v. Barnett, 2021.02.08, p. 6].

Hmm… when Judge Klinger read Amendment A and saw mention of civil penalties, professional and occupational licensing, taxation, allocation of revenue, she said the multi-subjecticality of Amendment A was plain and palpable. HB 1100 mentions licensing, taxation, allocation of revenue, implementation dates, licensing systems, farming practices, market analysis, environmental concerns.

Even the title of HB 1100 now stinks of poly-subjectivity: “An Act [1] to modify the medical marijuana program and [2] to create an interim committee to recommend implementation of the medical marijuana program.” Modify the program… and create a committee. That’s two subjects. That’s one more subject than Judge Klinger and the Constitution say a law can have.

Uh oh—it sounds like Governor Noem will be compelled by her duty to protect the Constitution of South Dakota to sue the Legislature (or dispatch the Highway Patrol to sue the Legislature) for violating the single-subject rule and demand repeal of her own bill.


  1. Darrell Solberg 2021-02-19 12:39

    Noooem has proven time and time again, as has the majority party in South Dakota, that POWER CORRUPTS AND ABSOLUTE POWER CORRUPTS ABSOLUTELY! What’s next, more VOTER SUPPRESSION BY HER? it won’t be long and we’ll be under her complete dictatorship!!! VOTERS wake up as she is an embarrassment to S.D!

  2. Mark Anderson 2021-02-19 17:42

    Come on Darrell she’s pretty at least, what more can you expect?

  3. John 2021-02-19 19:59

    Great points, Cory.
    Additionally a national pharmacy chain that established medicinal cannabis operations in some of the 30+ states allowing it, that initiated good faith efforts to establish branches in South Dakota — could sue for denial of investment backed expectations in state or, better yet, in federal court. Justice delayed is justice denied.
    National grow suppliers such as the nefarious (sarcasm) Scotts Miracle Grow, Grow Generation, etc., who sell gardening supplies for medical cannabis growers and users may show a SD dashing of investment backed expectations to their good faith expansion plans in South Dakota that are nixed by the Covid Queen. Scotts Miracle Grow has a potentially strong argument since their products are sold in South Dakota for generations. I earlier noted in another comment stream that worker compensation claims decreased by 20-40% among older workers in states with decriminalized cannabis. The state wins with increased tax revenue and decreased worker compensation payouts and court costs – unless the republicans don’t believe in ‘freedom’ and ‘democracy’.

    Seriously it should take no more than 2 weekends to borrow a legislative and regulatory scheme from states with experience administering medicinal cannabis. This ain’t rocket science unless one is a boomer republican.

  4. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2021-02-20 07:23

    John, I hate to sign on to a corporate lawsuit demanding that government act in a certain way and not change its mind. For instance, I would oppose any effort by TransCanada/TC Energy to sue the Biden Administration and charge us taxpayers for changing our minds back to the correct position of denying their Keystone XL permit. Suppose we had referred Noem’s really awful county zoning deregulation bill last year… or suppose we refer and reverse her really bad municipal version of that measure (2021 HB 1094) this year. CAFOs and other builders could claim that the Legislature created an expectation that they’d be able to make big money by building bigger CAFOs with less public opposition, but then we darned voters pulled the rug out from under them, so we votes have to pay those businesses for their “losses”.

    I’m not saying pot growers and manufacturers are as inimical to the environment and economy as factory farms; I’m just saying the arguments could parallel each other, and the fewer precedents we set for corporate profits being able to constrain public policy, the better.

  5. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2021-02-20 07:25

    I do agree completely that the state doesn’t need another year to implement these programs. The Legislature passes all sorts of bills on an emergency basis, enacting new policies with significant effects right now. Where there’s a will, there’s a way… and the will in Pierre is to thwart the will of the people until the GOP establishment can make sure it can corner the market and corral any new market players into its control.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.