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SD Senators Oppose Federal Marijuana Decriminalization Push

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Thune and Rounds
Senators Mike Rounds and John Thune

South Dakota’s two US Senators oppose a push by the Senate majority leader to decriminalize marijuana. 

That’s despite the Senate leader pointing to the state as a reason the chamber could make the policy change. 

It didn’t take long in Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s press conference to point to South Dakota as a litmus test for how attitudes toward cannabis have changed. 

“Even South Dakota—one of the most conservative states in America—a majority voted to legalize adult recreational use of marijuana.” 

The state voted 55 percent in favor of Amendment A, which put legalized adult-use and medical marijuana—as well as industrial hemp—into the state constitution. 

The Democrat from New York has draft legislation to decriminalize marijuana at the federal level, leaving states to decide whether to legalize the drug. 

But the state’s two Republican senators are not keen on the idea.  

Mike Rounds says he thinks decriminalizing marijuana is wrong. 

“The concept itself is something I’m not in favor of,” Rounds says. “I certainly will not be supporting a plan to decriminalize marijuana. I don’t’ think it’s the right thing to do. I think it sends the wrong message to our youth. We have enough problems with gateway drugs the way that it is right now.” 

Rounds’ colleague in the Senate, John Thune, also does not support decriminalizing marijuana at the federal level. 

Amendment A was supposed to go into effect on July first but has been held up in state courts on constitutional grounds. 

A state legislative subcommittee is looking at writing adult-use legislation. The group that brought Amendment A has four ballot questions ready for the 2022 election in case their ballot question is struck down.