Governor Kristi Noem signed several bills into law that will protect medical cannabis patients’ rights and allow them to cultivate their own plants.
In major wins for legal, medical marijuana consumers, South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem (R) signed the cannabis-related bills into law in late March.
South Dakota legalized medical cannabis in July 2021; despite the legalization, the state is still viewed as a highly stringent state regarding cannabis consumption.
Advocates and lawmakers hoped the Governor would sign several bills into law to expand patient protection and ease of use.
The first of the bills Gov. Noem signed was Senate Bill 6. This bill protects medical cardholders from discrimination from both school administrators and landlords; either of these entities cannot deny cardholder services.
Medical cardholders will be able to send their children to their desired schools and rent their selected homes regardless of their patient status.
Noem also signed into law Senate Bill 7. The bill mandates that “no person may be denied custody of, visitation rights with, or parenting time with a minor solely because the person is a cardholder.”
The bill disallows discrimination in family court based on whether a parent holds a medical card. Parents with medical marijuana cards have notoriously been penalized in family court for their cannabis consumption, and the SB7 prevents such prejudice.
Yet another win for cardholders came when Noem signed Senate Bill 15. This bill protects South Dakotan cardholders from losing any professional licensures because of their medical marijuana status. The legislature ensures that no professional can lose their job license because they have registered as a legal marijuana medical cardholder.
Perhaps the most formative piece of legislation signed was a bill that persevered the ability for medical cardholders that qualify to cultivate limited cannabis qualities at their home. Senate Bill 24 allows registered patients to grow up to four cannabis plants (two mature, two immature). The bill will enable cultivators to keep and harvest the herb for their personal use.
SB24 has had resistance from lawmakers; on two occasions, the South Dakota House voted to eliminate medical patients’ cultivation rights. Noem also opposed the original bill that allowed medical patients to grow and harvest their cannabis.
The original legalization bill has had its own set of hurdles. In the 2020 voting cycle, voters approved the bill to legalize medical marijuana, but the state met their approval with extreme pushback from state officials.
Noem, who has been seen as a flip-flopper on medical cannabis issues, challenged the vote, and the South Dakota Supreme Court struck it down.
However, South Dakotans favor medical cannabis, and Noem appears to be bending to the people. The recent bills she signed come on the heels of the state Senate approving bills, including one that allows any businesses holding a liquor license to sell medical cannabis products.
Many state legislators support medical marijuana reform, a significant triumph for advocates and patients.
The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) has been supporting medical legalization in South Dakota. The organization has always purported that rights for patients to home cultivation, stating patients “will have an uninterrupted and cost-effective supply of the medicine that is best suited to their own particular therapeutic needs.”
NORML celebrated the new bills signed into law, specifically SB24.
“Permitting limited home cultivation provides patients with the ability to have reliable, affordable, and consistent access to their medicine. Seventy percent of voters approved this right at the ballot box, and it is reassuring to see that a majority of lawmakers, and the Governor, ultimately decided to respect the voters’ decision,” Deputy Director Paul Armentano said.
As medical marijuana consumption goes into full effect, advocacy groups like NORML can hope to see more bills signed into law that protect and emboldens cannabis patients.
The goal is that South Dakota cardholders will have the ability to grow their own plants, harvest, grind up the medical marijuana in their favorite grinder, and be able to feel the incredible effects of medical cannabis. These recently signed bills are a step forward in that goal.