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Noem Vetoes Automatic Removal of Class 1 Marijuana Misdemeanors from Public Record of Good Behavers

On Friday, Governor Kristi Noem used her veto pen to take one more pot shot at South Dakotans fighting for cannabis freedom.

Marijuana’s biggest Legislative friend in Brown County, Republican District 1 Senator Mike Rohl, proposed Senate Bill 151 to wipe marijuana-related misdemeanors from individuals’ public records after five years of good behavior. Under current law (SDCL 23A-3-34), South Dakota removes all petty offenses, municipal ordinance violations, and Class 2 misdemeanor charges and convictions from public records after five years if the defendant satisfies all conditions imposed by the court and violates no laws during those five years. Senator Rohl sought to add to the list of removable offenses Class 1 misdemeanors “for the use or possession of marijuana or any derivative of marijuana.”

Senator Rohl also added an interesting legal protection for all beneficiaries of this state-approved forgetfulness:

Following the removal of any charge or conviction under this section, no person may be held under any provision of law to be guilty of perjury or of giving a false statement by reason of the person’s failure to recite or acknowledge the person’s arrest, indictment or information, or trial in response to any inquiry made of the person for any purpose [2022 Senate Bill 151, as amended in Senate Judiciary, 2022.02.18].

If I’m reading this provision correctly, SB 151 says an individual can lie and not face perjury charges. Suppose in 2028, Aaron Grant is in court, and a prosecuting attorney asks him, “Were you arrested for smashing a computer with a hammer in the Brown County courthouse on December 17, 2021?” Grant can lie and respond, “No,” and if SB 151 were law, he would face no legal punishment for this lie.

Senate Bill 151 narrowly passed the Senate 19–16 and the House 38–31. It did not pass Governor Noem’s scrutiny: she vetoed it Friday. In her veto message, Noem mentions the new legally permitted lie (SB 151 “essentially codifies a convicted person’s ability to be dishonest about their previous arrest and conviction”) but she focuses on her opposition to giving pot users a special, automatic second chance:

Current South Dakota law does allow for automatic removal for low-level Class 2 misdemeanors. However Senate Bill 151 expands that policy for marijuana crimes, carving out special exceptions for marijuana, thereby making the use and possession of marijuana the only Class 1 misdemeanors to have an automatic removal in state law.

…I believe in second chances. Our current laws and criminal procedures already provide sufficient avenues for people who have earned that second chance. But those individuals must at least show good cause or a need for such relief, such as suspended imposition of sentence procedures, county youth diversion programs, or executive clemency that can be requested online at no cost [Gov. Kristi Noem, veto message on SB 151, 2022.03.25].

Governor Noem also complains about retroactivity and sneaks in a a hint of her persistent suspicion that newly approved medical marijuana is just a ruse for recreational pot use:

This bill is also retroactive, which is bad precedent for criminal justice issues where fairness is paramount. Further, even with the legalization of medical cannabis, there must remain consequences for using illegal drugs at a time when the use and possession of marijuana, even for alleged medical purposes, was illegal [Noem, 2022.03.25].

Since SB 151 didn’t receive two-thirds votes in either chamber, this veto is very likely to stand and provide Governor Noem one more chance to to do her happy dance on the toes of South Dakota’s marijuana users.


  1. larry kurtz 2022-03-27 18:04

    This is what happens when Republicans draft cannabis law: red state failure on parade.

    Members of the Yankton Sioux Tribe hope to have their dispensary, Indigenous Budz, ready to open in Lake Andes sometime this summer.

  2. Janet 2022-03-27 21:15

    This crime of having a misdemeanor charge with marijuana possession or use is totally understood to deny erasing that horrible drug charge. Smashing a computer by a SD legislator, the attorney general accused of killing Jason Boever, Noem’s use of nepotism regarding her daughter’s inability to pass a test to become a real estate appraiser, denying gender identification, the teaching of CRT, disrespect of Native Americans, a sauna, security fence around the Governor’s mansion along with a make up kit to go with her video studio is so very acceptable in order to lead the State of SD. Pardon my sarcasm. But not really.

  3. Arlo Blundt 2022-03-27 22:44

    Governor Noem and her Republican cohorts are determined to eradicate citizenship from Hippies and casual pot smokers. Those two groups threaten their dominance because they do not subscribe to the notion that a South Dakotan must toe the line of the Protestant work ethic, with its social norms, and constant paranoia. What will they think if they knew, would I lose my job, would I be shunned???That’s the kind of nonsense that rules the Noems of the world.

  4. Arlo Blundt 2022-03-27 23:53

    Governor Noem and her Republican cohorts are determined to eradicate citizenship from Hippies and casual pot smokers. They’ve already created a laundry list of “new crimes” for medical marijuana.

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