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South Dakota Governor Signs Handful of Medical Cannabis Bills

South Dakota Governor. Kristi Noem last week signed a number of bills dealing with the state’s fledgling medical cannabis program that voters approved at the ballot in 2020.

Noem’s office said Friday that the first-term Republican had “signed six medical cannabis and hemp bills into law,” and that implementing those measures “will be part of Governor Noem’s focus on implementing a safe and responsible medical cannabis program that is the most patient-focused in the country.”

Perhaps most notably, one of the bills signed into law by Noem will place a limit on the number of cannabis plants a patient can grow at his or or her home at four––two of which “can be the state of growth at which they produce marijuana buds, while the other two plants cannot be beyond seedling stage,” according to the Argus Leader newspaper.

As the Associated Press noted, the “voter-passed law placed no maximum cap on the number of plants that may be grown in patients’ homes, but lawmakers moved this year to limit the number to four: two flowering and two non-flowering,” a compromise that came “after the Republican-controlled House proposed banning homegrown cannabis entirely, and Republicans in the Senate pushed a six-plant cap.”

A second bill was signed by Noem per the Argus Leader, “changes the medical marijuana law to allow nursing homes, treatment center and mental health centers to implement restrictions on cannabis use within their facilities” by protecting such facilities “from being forced to store and administer medical cannabis to clients and patients,” while another measure set to become law “adds language to the medical marijuana law that requires the health department provide written notice if they revoke a previously issued medical marijuana ID card.”

South Dakota lawmakers have spent much of this year’s legislative session debating the state’s approach to cannabis. Noem’s office said on Friday that, along with the six bills signed last week, the governor had “previously signed an additional 18 medical cannabis bills into law during the 2022 legislative session.”

Two proposals that legalized pot for adult use were approved by the voters in this area. Noem opposed the recreational measures throughout the campaign but he launched a legal challenge to the adult-use plan almost immediately.

A lower court in the state sided with Noem last February, saying that the recreational pot proposal was actually in violation of the state’s one subject requirement for constitutional amendments. In November, the state’s Supreme Court upheld that ruling, an outcome that Noem celebrated.

“South Dakota is a place where the rule of law and our Constitution matter, and that’s what today’s decision is about,” Noem said in a statement at the time. “We do things right—and how we do things matters just as much as what we are doing. Our lives are still guided by the law. This decision does not affect my Administration’s implementation of the medical cannabis program voters approved in 2020. That program was launched earlier this month, and the first cards have already gone out to eligible South Dakotans.”

Activists in the state have launched a renewed effort to get a different recreational pot measure on this year’s ballot, an effort that prompted some South Dakota lawmakers to pass a legalization measure of their own this session. Although the legislation passed the Senate by one vote, it failed to receive enough support in the House of Representatives.