Once again, South Dakotans were at risk of losing their voice on affecting public cannabis policy, but a legislative bullet was dodged on Feb. 23. Senate Bill 20 would have undone protections included in the state’s medical cannabis program, which 70% of voters approved in the November 2020 election, but the legislation was defeated by an 8-5 committee vote Wednesday. Under voter-approved Initiative Measure 26, an affirmative defense provision allows those who don’t have medical cannabis cards to defend themselves against punitive action for possessing certain amounts of cannabis by arguing they’ve met a qualifying health condition under the state’s medical program. S.B. 20 would have eliminated that defense measure, Keloland reported. “S.B. 20 was about the medical purpose defense, after the fact that I could have had a medical card,” Sen. Helene Duhamel, a Republican senator from Rapid City, told the media outlet. Duhamel’s sponsorship of the bill came after South Dakota began issuing medical cannabis cards, which the senator indicated as a reason to eliminate the protective measure for those who do not have cards. Duhamel’s effort wasn’t the first that took aim at a voter-approved measure from the 2020 ballot. In November 2021, the state’s Supreme Court overturned Amendment A, an adult-use legalization measure that was passed by 54.2% of voters.

Posted Melissa Schiller, Cannabis Business Times, 02/23/2022 15:37:00

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