Leading state lawmakers, including Republican Gov. Kristi Noem, have announced that they intend to delay the implementation of Measure 26, a medical cannabis legalization initiative approved on Election Day by 70 percent of voters.
Provisions in the initiative call for regulators to begin licensing applicants to participate in the program by July 1, 2021. A press release issued by the Governor’s office on Wednesday states that lawmakers will delay the law’s implementation by at least one year and that they will “create an interim committee” to make legislative recommendations prior to next year’s legislative session. Lawmakers intend to pass newly introduced legislation, House Bill 1100, amending Measure 26’s implementation dates.
A spokesperson for the Measure 26 campaign criticized the delay effort, stating: “The policy is detailed and based on best practices from other states. The legislature does not need to change Measure 26; we wrote a complete policy. All they need to do is respect the will of the people and allow the state to implement a medical marijuana program for qualifying patients.”
South Dakota voters in November passed a pair of voter-initiated marijuana measures: Measure 26 and Constitutional Amendment A, which seeks to legalize the adult-use marijuana market. Governor Noem publicly campaigned against both measures. On Monday, a Circuit Court judge ruled in favor of litigation backed by the state Governor’s office to nullify Amendment A on the basis that it encompass more than one topic and therefore violates the state’s ’single subject rule’ requirement. Proponents of that measure, South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws, say that they will appeal the ruling to the state’s Supreme Court.
NORML’s Deputy Director Paul Armentano said: “The will of the voters is clear. They want a legal marijuana marketplace and they want patients to be able to access medical cannabis. These cynical efforts to undermine and delay the enactment of these voter-approved measures is an affront to the very constituents that these lawmakers are in office to serve.”
If you live in South Dakota, send a message to your lawmakers and Gov. Noem in opposition to delaying the implementation on Measure 26.