The Future Of Pot Legislation In South Dakota
by Jeff Rusack, Reporter
February 05, 2013 6:03 PM
A bill that would allow people charged with possessing a small amount of marijuana to argue they need the drug for medical purposes was rejected, Tuesday.
But, just because a house committee shot down the bill doesn't mean the marijuana issue is completely dead in Pierre.
Pot legislation boasts a poor record in South Dakota. Medical marijuana made the ballot in 2010 and was overwhelmingly rejected. But, a pair of bills has been making a splash this session.
The first bill, killed Tuesday morning, would have allowed offenders to defend themselves in court by claiming they need marijuana for medical purposes. A bill not all marijuana supporters were eager to see passed.
“I was hesitant to support this bill because I do want a comprehensive medical marijuana law that encompasses the growing, the distributing, the oversight from the government,” said Emmett Reistroffer a pro-marijuana lobbyist. “This Bill merely protects a person once they are caught.”
Another bill has pro-pot lobbyists excited. The Senate Judiciary Committee will hear Senate Bill 221 this session.
The bill would change the possession of less than 2 ounces of marijuana from a class one felony to a class two felony.
“Not only is the maximum penalty scaled back from one year down to 30 days, which I believe is fitting in light of the criminal justice reform in Pierre. But, more so, that police officers will have more discretion when dealing with these offenders,” said Reistoffer.
While it's still unclear how that bill will fair, any legislation regarding medical marijuana will have to wait until 2014.
“We're going to have to go back to the drawing board and come back next year and try to address some of the concerns that were raised. And try find a way that these patients can protect themselves,” said Reistoffer.