South Dakota Senate passes bill to legalize recreational pot by single vote, moves to House

The South Dakota Senate on Wednesday passed a proposal to legalize recreational marijuana, as Republicans reasoned they should jump ahead of a campaign to legalize it on the November ballot.

The bill passed by a single vote in the Republican-controlled Senate, showing just how divided lawmakers are on pot legalization. The proposal would next head to the House, but one Senate opponent indicated he may push for the vote to be reconsidered later Wednesday.

They have been prodded by voters, who approved by 54% a 2020 constitutional amendment, known as Amendment A, to legalize recreational pot, medical marijuana and hemp. However, Republican Gov. Kristi Noem challenged its constitutionality and the state Supreme Court ruled it should be nullified last year.

Marijuana legalization advocates are mounting a campaign to bring it back to voters in November, and some Republicans argue they should jump on the law-making process.

“This is your opportunity to take control of the issue,” Republican Sen. David Wheeler, told the Senate. “This bill is your opportunity to do what the people said they wanted in Amendment A.”

Sponsors of this year’s ballot measure campaign have also offered a compromise to the Legislature: they will drop the campaign if a law is enacted. The Senate’s bill would not allow cannabis plants to be grown in people’s homes and allow local governments to opt out of allowing retail sites. [Read more at South Dakota Argus Leader]

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