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Legislators Working in Secret on Medical Marijuana Changes

The South Dakota Legislature plans to convene in Special Session November 8 to further gerrymander its own districts and ensure Republican domination of our lawmaking process for another ten years. The proclamation setting that date says the redistricting is the sole purpose of the November Special Session.

However, Bob Mercer warns that legislators on the medical marijuana subcommittee may use the Special Session to vote on amendments to our new medical marijuana law that lawmakers are working on in secret meetings:

Turns out the Legislature’s medical-marijuana subcommittee that met Wednesday to review proposed rules for South Dakota’s new program also has three sets of its members working privately, outside the public’s view, on potential changes to Initiated Measure 26 that nearly 70% of voters passed in the 2020 election.

…Representative Ernie Otten said a citizen had contacted him seeking more information about what the workgroups are looking at and their members.

[Medical marijuana committee chairman Senator Bryan] Breitling sidestepped that request and said the citizen could work directly with Otten.

“The workgroups are not public meetings,” Breitling told Otten [Bob Mercer, S.D. Lawmakers Might Change Medical-Pot Laws,” KELO-TV, 2021.08.04].

Senator Breitling, why on earth wouldn’t workgroup meetings be public? What on earth could you be discussing that can’t be discussed in front of the people who elected you, pay your per diems, and overwhelmingly approved the law you are working to change?

Keep an eye on your legislators, fellow South Dakotans, and keep an eye on the November Special Session: our legislators may be getting ready to mess with more than the district map!


  1. Mark Anderson 2021-08-05

    Well in Florida, excepting DeSantis, its illegal to do that.

  2. Sion G. Hanson 2021-08-05

    Most people that I have spoken with are more concerned with the legislature trying to overturn the will of the voters, than they are with the issue of marijuana legalization. I view the secretive nature of committee discussions as just more of the same corruption plaguing our state.

  3. SuFu Matt 2021-08-05

    If the 2022 election year is a glass house, this issue is like a truckload of stones.

  4. John Dale 2021-08-05

    I can personally guarantee that the legislature wants to flex back against the rapey, greedy posture of NASD and their two partner organizations.

    My instincts tell me that there was significant vote fraud in SD, and that it’s being investigated in a way that only a real red state would/could.

    At the same time, there are politicians – stunningly – that also likely benefitted from the Fraud even though they have an R next to their name, and they are mostly at the municipal level.

    I am imploring the legislature to preserve a reasonable and inexpensive cannabis program that doesn’t create an oligopoly or unreasonable and unaccountable bureaucratic fiefdom having political superpowers.

    Politically, at least, because of how cannabis was “legalized”, there will very likely be political blood.

    As a life long cannabis *ahem* advocate who has been suffering with a debilitating back injury since I was 18, I am very disappointed at the way SD cannabis was handled.

    This is an understatement.

    Karma is a B.

  5. John 2021-08-05

    It certainly reads like the legislature is violating the spirit of the open meetings law.
    IF not violating the letter of the law, then that’s a law requiring tightening up.

  6. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2021-08-05

    I wondered about that, John, but I notice that SDCL 1-25-12, which gives the definitions for our open meetings chapter, appears to exempt the Legislature from those laws.

    We may thus turn to the Interim Rules of Procedure, where we find Rule 3, which allows committee chairs to designate subcommittees, and Rule 4, which says, “Subject to Article III, Section 15 of the Constitution, all committee or subcommittee meetings are open to the public.”

    If these “working groups” are subcommittees, they must allow the public to observe their meetings. But I see no authorization for any such thing as a “working group”. Thus, we could conclude that Chairman Breitling is simply using the wrong term for what is effectively a subcommittee, which is clearly required to meet in public.

  7. Porter Lansing 2021-08-05

    John Dale knows, as I do, that cannabis has no mitigating affects on pain.

    Medical marijuana can, however, mitigate anxiety and mental anguish; a “chronic” symptom of Dakotaitis.

  8. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2021-08-05

    John Dale, nuts to your instincts. Give us evidence or give us silence. If there’s any investigation of voting fraud in 2020 in South Dakota, that investigation is happening in secret, too.

    Voters committed no crime in voting in 2020. The crime would be for the Legislature to continue its disregard for the will of the voters and undo what the voters have enacted. It may also be a literal crime for them to be plotting do so right now in secret meetings.

  9. mike from iowa 2021-08-05

    Red states couldn’t find their butts with all their hands. One thing magats are particular putrid in doing is investigating anything. Johnny Rabbit Hoke Refugee is just proving over and over again he is full of caca del toro. So much so his eyes are brown.

  10. Mark Anderson 2021-08-05

    Come on Cory, Mr. Dales obvious instincts are the result of his continuous use of mary jane. Who knows grudz could be correct on this.

  11. Jake 2021-08-05

    Cory, I’m 100% with you @ John Dale “Evidence (strong, not your usual B.S.) or give us silence-preferably! Like a quickly deflating tire, John Dale, you detract from a blogs’
    trend of thought like a sore thumb.

  12. Guy 2021-08-05

    Cory, this is beyond sad. If there is any governing body that needs to be open to the public in all of it’s deliberations – and not exempt from any public meetings laws – it has to be our state legislature. This is the governing body that is supposed to represent all of us. Sadly, however, it seems this state legislature has a poor record of representing the interests of most South Dakotans. I’ve lived in this state three times and from what I have witnessed, our legislators seem to protect the interests of the wealthy and well-connected.

  13. Richard Schriever 2021-08-05

    You see – even with 70% citizen support, the “elite” legislature just can’t allow the will of the people to stand:
    The ONLY solution:

    Consent of the Governed Act:
    “Any initiated act or Constitutional Amendment passed by a direct vote of the people, shall not be nullified or altered or amended in any way by any means other to a direct vote of the people.”

    Pass this – or NOTHING else that is passed by the vote of the people will EVER be allowed by the “elite” to stand.

  14. John 2021-08-06

    Peublo County, population 170,000, announces marijuana tax scholarship awards of $2 million.
    Their tax rate on marijuana is 5%.

    Imagine if the SD legislature had pulled its head out of its tail, and that SD’s governess actually believed in “freedom” and rule of the people — the marijuana tax revenue that SD could be enjoying. Instead the legislature and governess work to undue the rule of the people.

    Richard’s Consent of the Governed Amendment is needed, with a slight tweak: “Any initiated act or Constitutional Amendment passed by a [simple majority] direct vote of the people, shall not be nullified or altered or amended in any way by any means other to a [simple majority] direct vote of the people.”

  15. grudznick 2021-08-07

    There has to be good ways to fix the sloppy and poorly thrown together tripe that comes out of the minds of the uninitiated masses. If slop like the measure initiated as number 22 didn’t get slung about like day-old hash there would be no need for the legislatures to interfere.

  16. O 2021-08-07

    grudznick, there is a check on initiated measures: a vote of the people. You make it sound as if it were written and became so, when instead a majority, a CLEAR majority voted to move that proposal into law.

    I would also argue that 22 is less silly than much of what our esteemed legislature puts out in any given session. The people have had to just say not to some of that as well.

  17. Porter Lansing 2021-08-07

    Lobbyists are bad. VERY BAD!!

  18. John 2021-08-08

    Too bad the legislature and noem do not care about broadening products and markets for South Dakota.
    “Legal US Marijuana is pouring into Mexico. It’s pricey and popular.”
    Apparently Americans with presumed “cantaloupe calves” are bootlegging as much marijuana product as they can carry to the Mexican market.

    The South Dakota republicans could have embraced the SD voter-passed marijuana laws, created markets, established and collected taxes – that capitalist approach. The republicant regressives instead chose to fight and delay the future – the autocratic approach. They pretend the border is a problem verses being an opportunity.

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