South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R) is considering supporting legislation that would decriminalize cannabis possession by adults, while also limiting the number of plants a medical cannabis patient can grow in their homes, the Argus Leader reports.
The proposal comes more than a month after a judge struck down the voter-approved legalization initiative on the grounds it violated the state’s ballot initiative rules allowing only one subject. Lawyers for pro-cannabis advocates last week made their first arguments in their appeal of that ruling to the state Supreme Court.
While Noem was not a named plaintiff in the case, the law enforcement officers that brought the case were acting on her behalf.
A draft of the legislation that Noem is considering backing includes decriminalizing possession up to an ounce, and up to 8 grams of concentrates, for adults 21-and-older. A first offence would be considered a petty crime and not subject to jail. Subsequent offenses would be a Class 2 misdemeanor – under current state law cannabis possession is a Class 1 misdemeanor.
The measure would also prohibit those under 21-years-old from inhaling or smoking cannabis regardless of their status as a medical cannabis patient. During the November election, South Dakotans also legalized cannabis for medical use.
Noem’s chief of staff, Tony Venhuizen, told the Leader that the proposal “is one of several draft bills being circulated for discussion and Gov. Noem has not endorsed any of them.”
Lawmakers could consider whatever cannabis reform proposal is preferred by the governor when they return to the Capitol next week for Veto Day, or convene for a special session, which would likely be in late spring or early summer.
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