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Ismay Proposes Repealing Medical Cannabis Law; LRC Proposes Ridiculously Long Petition

Newell Republican activist Travis Ismay really doesn’t like marijuana. In addition to his initiative to prevent South Dakotans from ever voting on legalizing marijuana or other “federally banned substances” (which, as one linguistically attentive reader notes, may not achieve its stated goal, as the legal term of art is “controlled“, not “banned”), Ismay last month sent the Legislative Research Council a proposal to repeal SDCL 34-20G, the medical cannabis law that South Dakotans approved via Initiated Measure 26 in 2020.

Either the LRC or Secretary of State Monae Johnson is getting sloppy: the posted LRC responses to initial drafts of initiated measures usually includes the exact text submitted by sponsors. LRC’s response to Ismay’s medical-cannabis ban simply says, “The proposed initiated measure repeals SDCL chapter 34-20G, the medical cannabis chapter.” LRC does not quote Ismay’s words, so I assume Ismay has offered a single, simple sentence to that effect.

Alas, the spoilsports at the LRC don’t want a single, simple sentence. Pointing to the Guide to Drafting Legislation (see examples in updated edition, Sep. 2023, pp. 71–73), LRC says Ismay should write and overstrike the full text of the chapter (95 sections, plus subsequent Legislative amendments and five bonus sections) he wishes to repeal. Instead of writing one sentence, Ismay would have to type out the nearly 12,000 words of SDCL 34-20G (and given his difficulty in typing the single sentence of his other initiative correctly, that could be a problem) and figure out how to use the Microsoft Word Strikethrough button. Worse, printed in the 14-point font required by democracy-hating Senator Al Novstrup’s 2021 Senate Bill 77 to sabotage initiatives, SDCL 34-20G runs 44 pages. Ismay will have to fit all of that text onto a single sheet of paper. Printing front and back, even with some narrow margins and tight formatting, Ismay would need a sheet of paper measuring 40 inches by 44 inches. (Ismay may have recruit his Spearfish neighbor John Dale to build him a giant clipboard… although I’m not sure pro-pot Dale will be inclined to help repeal the medical cannabis law.)

I’m not eager to re-illegalize medical cannabis, but I sympathize with Ismay’s petition-drafting plight. Ismay seeks a simple policy change: outlaw medical cannabis. He can express that intent in five simple words—”Repeal the medical cannabis chapter”—or in an even shorter statutory citation—”Repeal SDCL 34-20G”. The latter line clearly and completely captures the technical scope of Ismay’s proposal. That line, accompanied by the Attorney General’s title that would likely read, “An Act to repeal South Dakota’s medical cannabis laws”, would as effectively and more efficiently inform voters and potential petition signers of the full intent of Ismay’s initiative as/than nearly 12,000 overstricken words rolled out on an 18-foot scroll. Any voter who reads that single sentence and the accompanying AG’s title and still wonders what the initiative would do can whip out a phone and read the entire law online before signing the petition to eliminate it.

Requiring Ismay to print out the entire text of SDCL 34-20G is an unnecessary barrier to allowing Ismay and his supporters to invite voters to discuss an important public policy. Let Ismay state his proposal as a simple repeal of SDCL Chapter 34-20G, and let voters decide if they want to put that repeal to a vote.


  1. larry kurtz 2023-05-26 08:04

    Contaminated dietary supplements, vapes, ointments and edibles are unacceptable in a country with a long history of snake oil salesmen. Cannabis is a safe, effective palliative but black market cannabis not tested or subject to regulation makes America and South Dakota less safe. Legalization, state inspections and regulation of a product that so many people enjoy is reasonable public policy that would align with our life safety goals.

  2. Eve Fisher 2023-05-26 09:23

    We voted, overwhelmingly, for legalized medical marijuana, and ever since our Governor and State Legislature has done everything possible to make sure we don’t get it. So much for “Under God the people rule”.

  3. larry kurtz 2023-05-26 09:32

    Mr. Ismay is unwell. His Faceberg page is a Trump worshiper’s wet dream.

  4. Mike Lee Zitterich 2023-05-26 09:53

    I have to agree, what brought this petition attempt today, I have no idea..unlike Recreational Marijuana which strongly had no support as evidence of the voters 2022 vote, and the countywide 2020 vote, there was a stark difference of opinion related to Medical Marijuana.

    Lets go back to 2020 – 70.8% of the 448,000 voters who voted clearly supported and approved of I.M 26 to adopt Medical Marijuana Laws. Just as I did with recreational marijuana or Amendment A, I dove into the true numbers, county by country, as people vote in groups, the countywide vote collectively approved of Medical Marijuana Law by merely the same rate of support, 69.8% of all 66 Counties supported Medical Marijuana.

    What this shows, was, that the majority of the population, beliefs of the total population, presented evidence, and fact, that a large majority of the “State” supported allowing a “Small” restrictive means of the population to obtain the privilege of using marijuana for specific medical purpose.

    In 2021, the residents of Meade County went to the polls to vote on un-restricting the zoning, planning, and licensing rules, however, of the 2,200 voters who voted in the county, 1,400 voted to maintain, and keep a very tight control, heavily restricted use of Medical Marijuana Estabilishments.

    The total opposite result occurred on Amendment A – ony 54% of the 448,000 voters approved of the Amendment, however, when look at the results more deeper, 70% of the counties said NO, with 38 of them clearly voting collectively by more than 60% against Legalizing Marijuana.

    The amendment was ruled unconstitutional as written, while the 2022 public vote to fully legalize marijuana was hugely voted down by the “Voters”, which clearly showed the same result of the 2020 Countywide collective vote, nearly 60% of the voters said NO.

    What does this mean? South Dakota Citizens are in favor of allowing Marijuana for medical use under tight controls, regulations, zoning laws, but they are NOT in favor of giving to themselves, the freedom to freely use Marijuana for any such purpose…

    Since no person, or citizen challenged any of the County or City Ordinances on their Planning, Zoning, and Licensing Strict Regulations, of which SDCL 34-20G – a voter approved law – this fact means, the people are in full agreement that they are fine with allowing a small class of people to utilize the Marijuana plant for medical use, while at the same time, keeping the plant fully illegal for all uses other than medical.

    Only the Citizens (residents) of Meade County challenged any of the local ordinances by placing them on a public ballot. But as the voters went to the polls, it was clear, South Dakota citizens heavily supported a well regulated, scrutinized, controlled use of Marijuana for Medical Purpose, while in 2022, for the 5th time, Full legalization was on the ballot all by itself, and it failed miserably.

    Just my assessment..take it, or leave it

  5. larry kurtz 2023-05-26 09:59

    In 2018 after being frustrated with the inability of activists and advocates to herd the booze-soaked, ecocidal South Dakota Legislature and the Republican Party apparatchiks in Pierre into the corral of cannabis common sense an interested party reached out to Matt Kinney, a Spearditch-based attorney who specializes in the defense of clients caught up in the morass of cannabis law in my home state. In 2015 he represented former Butte County State’s Attorney Heather Plunkett after she was railroaded into dismissal by then-Attorney General Marty Jackley.

    Heather Plunkett had been a Republican who once served as county vice-chair elected by the central committee of Butte County GOP per the bylaws. She is the daughter of Mike Messmer, a principal in Meade County Republican politics and was appointed State’s Attorney in 2010 by scandal-ridden Governor Mike Rounds. She had previously pleaded guilty to one count of possession of cannabis less than 2 ounces, possession of paraphernalia and ingesting a substance other than alcohol. She received a suspended jail sentence, underwent periodic substance evaluations, was on probation for a year and was ordered to pay $861 in fees and fines for exercising her cannabis rights in defiance of South Dakota law. Her husband Ryan pleaded guilty to possession of cannabis and received a suspended jail sentence.

    Plunkett told interested party cannabis helped to curb her alcohol use after learning the number of problem drinkers in the legal profession is more than double that of the general population. She has not renewed her law license but now she and her family live in Colorado.

  6. P. Aitch 2023-05-26 10:54

    Artificial Intelligence’s ability to follow commands and direction is a highly useful tool for crafting political proposals. Tell it what you want and in what style you want it composed and AI will research your laws and write a bill that is fully unable to be successfully challenged.
    Just something innovative that SD will be using in fifteen years or so.

  7. All Mammal 2023-05-26 13:31

    P. Aitch- AI-written initiatives is a grand idea. We need something foolproof and, by golly, AI will be about the only way to get past the single-subject rule and get something that holds up on the books.

    I wonder what AI’s rates are for legal council, just in case one finds themselves accused in a SD pickle….?

  8. Richard Schriever 2023-05-26 20:58

    Zitterich = acres (counties) get no mention in the constitution, don’t have rights and don’t get to vote. They are corporate entities, not people.

  9. Mike Lee Zitterich 2023-05-27 10:15

    Mr Richard, you have so much to learn about how ‘we’ truly govern our republic, “WE” are not a direct democracy.

    The PEOPLE of a County have the right to organize, gather, and petition to stop any such law from taking effect, let alone repeal such law. Because each County has a County Committee Person and Precinct Committees – the people have the right to hold meetings, to discuss, and to adopt a resolution to oppose a specific adopted law, let alone form coalitions with OTHER Counties to present a case against a law.

    When a majority of Counties adopt resolutions, raise grievances, and present a case of which they do NOT consent, the law cannot stand, without first being publically heard, in order to settle the differences of opinion. This can be done in 3 different ways…

    a) Petition the Voters in a greater # of precincts of all Counties effected,

    b) Petition the Circuit Courts of the County(s) most effected by the adoped legislation;

    c) Lobby, and Requesting the Legislature to place the matter on the legislative Agenda between January 15 and March 15

    IF we win, ‘we’ are then able to strike down YOUR LAW…this process was established to maintain the fact, that a small minority of voters or legislators cannot over rule the majority of the “State”.

  10. larry kurtz 2023-05-27 10:44

    6. No foetus in the United States has any civil rights. Republicans preach civil rights for human blastocysts but deny the protections of the First, Fourth and Ninth Amendments to people who enjoy cannabis.

  11. Tim 2023-05-27 11:42

    I guess I’ll just continue to let my money support projects in Colorado then.

  12. Mike Lee Zitterich 2023-05-27 14:06

    In one year, how many people have applied for Medical Marijuana Cards, and how many Holders of the Cards are there? The LAW was drafted, written, and adopted by the very “Marijuana Supporters” so you cannot blame Government for the huge restrictions on the industry. Not much about the SDCL 34-20G has been changed from what was drafted/adopted in 2020. To blame the government for restricting Medical Marijuana Use cannot be an excuse, when YOUR MARIJUANA FAITHFUL wrote the law yourselves. IT allowed the people in each County (each city) to adopt planning, zoning, and licenses as they so chose. So, after basically 1 year since the industry got off the ground, from January 2022 to June 2023 …

    1) How many Applications have been recieved?

    2) How many Applications have been rejected?

    3) How many S.D Medical Card Holders are currently on file?

    4) How many Medical Marijuana Establishments are Open Today?

    5) How many Medical Marijuana Establishments are in the Planning Phase?

    6) What is the longest Medical “term” of months being rewarded to S.D Citizens for Permitted Use? What is the average permitted use?

    Of 887,000 S.D Citizens living in the State – what % of citizens are currently holding S.D Medical Cards?

    ***DO NOT INCLUDE NATIVE AMERICAN TRIBAL CARDS, they do NOT qualify since it is Illegal for a S.D Citizen to hold them***

  13. P. Aitch 2023-05-27 14:22

    Mike Lee; who are you talking to?

  14. M 2023-05-27 18:33

    It’s really no ones business if I smoke pot. I don’t care how many Buds you drink each night Mr. Z. In fact, logic and facts prove Mary Jane to be much safer for women and children and society as a whole than alcohol.

    Prohibition came along because men were drunk all the time, neglecting, beating and chastising the wife and the 14 kiddies he couldn’t feed because he drank up the paycheck. No different than nowdays Mr. Z.

    Pot was banned because blacks smoked it and the cops created a frenzy with “Reefer Madness.” Compare alcohol deaths, suicides, murders to those with just pot involved and you’ll know why any sane person would choose weed over the demon alcohol.

  15. grudznick 2023-05-27 20:42

    What? Reefer Madness was about white people here in Rapid City. Are you projecting, Ms. M?

    The Demon Weed is bad, it is very bad. But it was not the black people who toked it all up and who toke it now in the back alley behind the Brass Rail. It is just people, let us be color blind about how bad the Demon Weed is.

  16. grudznick 2023-05-27 20:45

    We should not point Reefer Madness at just black people. The Demon Weed abuse is a complex issue that can affect individuals regardless of their race or ethnicity. The development of substance abuse problems is influenced by various factors such as genetics, environment, socioeconomic status, and personal experiences. Race, in and of itself, is not a direct determinant of substance abuse or the use of the demon weed. Toking the demon weed is a universal concern that can affect people from all racial and ethnic backgrounds. It is crucial to approach the topic of substance abuse with a focus on individual experiences and factors that contribute to addiction rather than making generalizations based on race.

  17. Arlo Blundt 2023-05-27 21:50

    For once Grudznick, you are mostly correct. There is use and there is abuse, and there is addiction, and all mind altering substances are very tricky, very subtle, and dangerous when it comes to who will develop an addiction and who won’t. We are all familiar with alcohol and its debilitating effect on approximately one in eight people who take a first drink.For those who become addicted it is dangerously lethal. In my experience, Marijuana is much more benign, but does lead to a cross addiction for people who also consume alcohol, (most do), or fall into the use of amphetamines, tranquilizers or narcotics (some do). It is a world wide problem (Russia has an enormous problem with alcoholism) and in the US we are coming to a conclusion to allow people freedom to experiment and to choose whether to use Marijuana. We have not committed this country to government funded addiction rehabilitation. That is a serious oversight.

  18. Jenny 2023-05-27 21:52

    M is right Grudz, criminalizing cannabis was a convenient way to arrest more black people. To anyone that still thinks there isn’t a race problem with policing in this country; stats show that blacks are almost four times as likely to be arrested for marijuana than whites. In MN, blacks are over five times as likely to be arrested than blacks. Startling statistics below and the DFL voiced these racial disparities loud and clear on why it’s time to legalize and expunge.

  19. P. Aitch 2023-05-27 21:58

    Grudznick. Unless you have legitimate statistical studies to back up the claims you’re pulling out of blue sky just shut the f**k up already. Stupid hog head. Some ignorant Connie might believe you and then there will be two as stupid as you.

  20. grudznick 2023-05-27 22:19

    Mr. P.h, thank you for the goat you are already floating. Really gutted you there, eh?

    Understanding the complex dynamics and impacts of cannabis prohibition on different communities, including the minority communities in South Dakota, which do not represent the minority communities in Colorado, , requires considering various factors such as historical context, systemic racism, criminal justice policies, and the evolving perspectives on drug policy. You need to get your monkey off your back, sir.

    Got your goat, AGAIN! :)

  21. P. Aitch 2023-05-28 02:49

    Where are the links to sites from experts with peer reviewed research that concur with your assertions? What!! You have none, student?
    Do you understand the difference between actuality and certitude vs speculation and conjecture?
    Go back to work, young weed hopper. Make your mother proud.

  22. P. Aitch 2023-05-28 02:57

    PS, student grudznick. It’s impossible and infeasible to “take” my goats. My goats already belong to everyone. This group ownership already includes you. You cannot steal from yourself. You can only further diminish your self esteem.

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