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Aylward, Rohl, and Democrats Get Highest Marijuana Grades on 2022 Votes; GOP Social Control Freaks Get Lowest

The Cannabis Industry Association of South Dakota and South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws have graded South Dakota’s 105 legislators on their votes on marijuana-related legislation this year. The pot lobby publishes its results, based on 21 House committee votes, 20 House floor votes, 12 Senate committee votes, and 15 Senate floor votes on 25 bills, in this remarkably detailed 2022 South Dakota Legislature Cannabis Scorecard.

The marijuana industry and its ballot question committee (which continues to circulate a petition to take another swing at marijuana legalization on the November ballot and advertises that petition here on this blog) gives each of the 25 bills impact scores from 1 to 5 based on importance. For example, the pot lobby really wanted to kill Senate Bill 20 and the final hoghoused version of Senate Bill 150, which would have taken away pot users’ new right to cite medicinal use as an affirmative defense against pot possession charges, so those bills are worth 5 points in floor votes. The pot lobby supported Senate Bill 23, which revised the definition of the patient-practitioner relationship with respect to prescribing marijuana, but they didn’t view that bill as making as much of a difference as others in the list, so they only assign 1 impact point for floor votes and 0.5 for committee votes. Legislators get positive points for voting with the CIASD/SDBML position and negative points for voting against.

There were more votes on more impactful bills in the House than in the Senate, so House members could score a theoretical maximum of 120.5 points (or, they had voted against the pot lobby on every possible vote, –120.5) while Senators’ theoretical maximum was 63 points. Of course, almost no legislator could score the maximum, since no member served on every committee that voted on every bill except for Senate Arthur Rusch, whose Senate Health and Human Services and Senate Judiciary committees considered all of the pot bills on this scorecard. So rather than grading on percentages, CIASD/SDBML sum up the impact scores and then give letter grades based on how legislators’ scores compare with each other.

Coming out at the top of the class with grades of A+ are ten House members and four Senators. Each list is topped by a Republican, but the rest of the honor roll is mostly Democrats:

  1. Rep. Aaron Aylward (R-6/Harrisburg)
  2. Rep. Erin Healy (D-14/Sioux Falls)
  3. Rep. Taylor Rehfeldt (R-14/Sioux Falls)
  4. Rep. Oren Lesmeister (D-28A/Parade)
  5. Rep. Tom Pischke (R-25/Dell Rapids)
  6. Rep. Jennifer Keintz (D-1/Eden)
  7. Rep. Peri Pourier (D-27/Pine Ridge)
  8. Rep. Linda Duba (D-15/Sioux Falls)
  9. Rep. Jamie Smith (D-15/Sioux Falls)
  10. Rep. Ryan Cwach (D-18/Yankton)
  1. Sen. Michael Rohl (R-1/Aberdeen)
  2. Sen. Troy Heinert (D-26/Mission)
  3. Sen. Reynold Nesiba (D-15/Sioux Falls)
  4. Sen. Red Dawn Foster (D-27/Pine Ridge)

The scorecard gives 8 Fs in the House and 1 F in the Senate. All of the stinkers are Republicans with a penchant for trying to legislate morality and social control (listed here with the worst first):

  1. Rep. Kevin Jensen (R-16/Canton)
  2. Rep. Marli Wiese (R-8/Madison)
  3. Rep. Jon Hansen (R-25/Dell Rapids)
  4. Rep. Fred Deutsch (R-4/Florence)
  5. Rep. Rhonda Milstead (R-9/Wall Lake)
  6. Rep. Mary Fitzgerald (R-31/Spearfish)
  7. Rep. John Mills (R-4/Volga)
  8. Rep. Lana Greenfield (R-2/Doland)
  1. Sen. Maggie Sutton (R-10/Sioux Falls)

Comparing scores between chambers is difficult, since not all bills went to all chambers. But the median impact score in the House was –6, while the median impact score in the Senate was +7.5. Those medians indicate that the Senate was generally more supportive of marijuana access than the House.

CIASD/SDBML line these impact scores up with their estimate of the percentage of the vote that 2020 Amendment A (broad marijuana legalization) and Initiated Measure 26 (medical marijuana) got in the legislators’ districts. The correlation is only faintly positive—0.198 across both chambers with district votes on A, 0.194 across both chambers with district votes on 26—and barely statistically significant… which is a mathematical way of saying that legislators’ votes on marijuana legislation didn’t predictably reflect their constituents’ support for 2020’s cannabis ballot measures.


  1. larry kurtz 2022-03-31 07:33

    Looks like there is a strong libertarian streak in the SDDP since the SDGOP is comprised mostly of nanny staters, Earth haters and white nationalists.

  2. Mark Anderson 2022-03-31 08:57

    Well Larry, if there were more Libertarians, marijuana would have been legalized with a toke at signing. now it’s just Rohling with the punches. You would think it wouldn’t be so easy to fight the will of the people but the party that loves Putin is authoritarian to the core.

  3. larry kurtz 2022-03-31 09:22

    I’m a small “l” libertarian Democrat who voted for Gary Johnson in 2016 because Secretary Clinton was so far ahead in the polls here in New Mexico. Johnson’s strong showing in Colorado that year probably kept Herr Trump from winning there. Johnson did best in LawCo South Dakota that year, too. Born in Minot, North Dakota Johnson also suffered through several Aberdeen winters as a kid.

    The ABQ Journal has a story on him as we begin retail cannabis sales for all adults tomorrow.

  4. tara volesky 2022-03-31 20:31

    Congratulations to the Libertarian leaning Republicans and Democrats that put the people of SD first. Time to vote in a new Governor that will put the people in front of personal aspirations, cronyism, nepotism and favoritism. Good job guys, now appoint an Independent Special Prosecutor to investigate planegate, daughtergate, billboardgate, etc.

  5. jerry 2022-04-01 13:27

    Coke fueled orgy’s by republican lawmakers, oh my! These are republican trademarks it seems. Seems Republicans would support marijuana laws that would also legalize cocaine possession and use, according to what their freshman congressman from North Carolina is spilling. So tell me why are they against pot?

  6. jerry 2022-04-01 15:36

    Traeger Grills has this new weed pellet out. “Give a whole new meaning to “smoked” meats with new Traeger Weed Pellets. Made from a hybrid blend of premium, organic Colorado buds, these pellets will take both the flavor and the vibe of your next cookout to a higher level (must be 21+ to purchase).”

  7. larry kurtz 2022-04-02 08:35

    Dispensaries sold over $1.8 million in retail cannabis sales for our first day here in the Land of Enchantment!

  8. larry kurtz 2022-04-06 08:02

    The City of Mitchell has denied variances for a cannabis enterprise in a building owned by Tara Volesky but Native Nations Cannabis has been approved. The Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe’s patient count has gone over 10,000!

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