South Dakota Capitol building in Pierre

(The Center Square) – Marijuana use and sales were the main topics of legislation filed by South Dakota lawmakers a week before they return to Pierre for the 2022 legislative session.

The majority of cannabis-related bills are coming from members of the Marijuana Interim Study Committee that addressed medical and recreational marijuana during three meetings held last year. 

Senate Bill 3 legalizes recreational use of an ounce or less of marijuana for anyone over the age of 21 but adds stipulations that make it a Class 2 misdemeanor to drive while consuming the drug and bars is its use at places of employment.

A separate bill – Senate Bill 25 – requires marijuana manufacturers to pay a 15% excise tax based on the average market rate.

South Dakota voters approved a referendum in November 2020 that would have legalized marijuana for recreational and medicinal purposes. The South Dakota Supreme Court struck down the amendment a year later, saying the amendment should not have addressed more than one subject.

A group called South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws (SDBML) is seeking signatures on a petition that would put the issue before voters again in November. The group had 15,000 signatures in early December and was needing another 10,000, according to a news release. Its hope, however, is the Legislature would pass a bill, said Matthew Schweich, campaign director for SDBML.

Also filed Tuesday by the Committee on Appropriations is a bill that would set aside $8 million to modernize the state’s reemployment assistance system, formerly known as unemployment insurance. The majority of the funding, $6.5 million, would come from federal funds with the remaining $1.5 million coming from the general fund.

Several Republican lawmakers have filed a bill called “An Act to promote continued fairness in women's sports.” Gov. Kristi Noem announced a draft of the bill last year that would ban transgender women from competing in girls’ sports.

Rep. Fred Deutsch, R-Florence, filed a bill that would allow employees who claim they were harmed by a vaccination required by their employer to file a claim against the employer. The bill does not specifically mention the COVID-19 vaccine.

Lawmakers return to Pierre on Jan. 11. Noem is scheduled to give her State of the State address at noon that day.

Associate Editor

Kim Jarrett's career spans over 30 years with stops in radio, print and television. She has won awards from both the Georgia Press Association and the Georgia Association of Broadcasters.