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IM 26 Includes Provision Preventing SD Cops from Cooperating with Feds

The 95 sections of Initiated Measure 26, South Dakota’s voter-approved medical marijuana law, have been codified as SDCL Chapter 34-20G. So yes, cops and lawyers and legislators referring to specific statutes governing medical marijuana will have to say 4-20.

I celebrate the fact that we can finally stop squinting at the awful scanned PDF edition of the IM 26 petition, the only online version of the full text that I’ve ever seen, and enjoy a nice searchable plain-text edition of the law, complete with separate links to each of its specific provisions.

One of those provisions, Section 16, places this interesting prohibition on law enforcement activity:

No law enforcement officer employed by an agency that receives state or local government funds may expend any state or local resources, including the officer’s time, to effect any arrest or seizure of cannabis, or conduct any investigation, on the sole basis of activity the officer believes to constitute a violation of the federal Controlled Substances Act, 21 U.S.C. § 801 et seq., if the officer has reason to believe that the activity is in compliance with this chapter. No officer may expend any state or local resources, including the officer’s time, to provide any information or logistical support related to any activity to any federal law enforcement authority or prosecuting entity [SDCL 34-20G-16, effective 2021.07.01].

The first sentence says that if South Dakota cops think certain cannabinoid activity is related to folks growing or selling or using soon-to-be perfectly legal medical marijuana, they are not to go snooping or cuffing or seizing on the basis of their invocation of federal law. I’d think all those right-wing bodyguards Governor Noem is recruiting would enjoy that assertion of state supremacy over federal law, but I get the feeling that South Dakota cops will be more more inclined to invoke federal law to harass medical mari-wanters by claiming, “What? I had no reason to believe the activity in question was in compliance with Chapter 34-20G. I smelled pot, suspected criminal activity, and went in to look.”

The second sentence, however, if read in isolation, could be a blockbuster. “No officer may expend any state or local resources, including the officer’s time, to provide any information or logistical support related to any activity to any federal law enforcement authority or prosecuting entity.” That line doesn’t refer back to the federal Controlled Substances Act cited in sentence #1. That line doesn’t place any qualifier on the “activity” where local and state cops’ assistance is restricted. That line as written says South Dakota cops can’t help federal cops or U.S. Attorneys. No information, no logistical support, nothing about “any activity.”

Hmm… Governor Noem, are you reading? IM 26 appears to severely hamstring any cooperation between our cops and the feds. Maybe you intend to simply overlook that portion of the law—as the cops’ own Standards and Training Commission appears inclined in declaring it can ignore IM 26 and prohibit cops from using medical marijuana—but wouldn’t it be more fun to use this odd provision as a pretext to call a Special Session and work line by line through IM 26 to prevent it from wreaking any real chaos on law enforcement in South Dakota?


  1. Porter Lansing 2021-05-10

    Another year avoiding the inevitable.

    No state has legalized marijuana in any capacity before first decriminalizing the herb.

    *Any citizen discovered with a small amount of pot will be issued a ticket for a hundred dollar fine.
    The fine can be mailed in. (Fine is doubled for each successive offense)
    No record of such offense will be included in the legal record of the guilty person.
    No crime of “consumption” will be in effect and no blood or urine test will be authorized.

  2. John 2021-05-10

    Meanwhile the demons in Pierre try preventing injured officers from receiving natural pain relief. This won’t last long. Apparently these cops and prosecutors have nothing better to do and no greater crimes to pursue (like the AG killing a pedestrian).

    The irrelevant US senate needs to get off its butt to remove cannabis as a scheduled drug. The territorial judges in Deadwood got it correct to not jail folks for mere use without evidence of committing a violent crime. Social evolution is not a one-way venue to enlightenment.

  3. grudznick 2021-05-10

    Measures, initiated, are usually sloppily written pieces of crap foisted on the ignorant masses. Who is surprised that the measure initiated as number 26 is any different? This is why that practice needs to be stripped from our constitution. We should be the first state to strip it.

  4. Arlo Blundt 2021-05-10

    Well…go ahead Grudz, get your petition written and file to submit it ti the voters. See how it goes. My bet is that voters will uphold the present constitutional system of initiative and referendum. It has served us well since the 1890 election. The first was a constitutional amendment to limit the amount of state debt. It lost 50745 to 15727. The first constitutional amendment to pass was in 1892 for a mileage allowance for Legislators which got 77% of the popular vote. The history of these elections is full of surprises.

  5. grudznick 2021-05-10

    Mr. Blundt, my approach would be to have the legislatures put it on the ballot. Much less work for me.

    And that $0.05 mileage amendment is one of the best.

    Don’t confuse the constitutional amendments, initiated, with the measures, initiated, which are generally more sloppily written and hoodwinked on the ignorant masses. Now that’s not to say there haven’t been a few super-sloppy amendments, initiated, such as the one lettered “A” and the Marsy’s Law. Heck, even those who foisted the Marsy’s Law on the masses had to come back and fix it the next year.

  6. Porter Lansing 2021-05-10

    It doesn’t matter how sloppily an initiated measure is written if the Governor and the legislature respect the will of the people to govern themselves.

    In Nazi South Dakota that doesn’t happen.

  7. M 2021-05-11

    Just legalize the stuff and let us live our lives peacefully and legally. Like the Republicans are saying about not wearing masks, “It’s my body, my choice.”

    If anything should be illegal, it should be booze, government sanctioned slaughter of animals and most guns that are sold to any Joe Blow with money. Oh, and hunting in state parks.

    Just legalize the pot and get this over with. Capitalism isn’t just for booze and guns.

  8. mike from iowa 2021-05-15

    On the magat side of the news, Northern Mississippi’s sister state, Southern Mississippi’s soopreme court just invalidated the whole amend the constitution by initiated measures to prevent the state from having medical marijuana.

    Hornswoggled by gawd as ever was!

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