A house committee is advancing a proposal to delay a voter-approved medical marijuana program by one year.
The bill sets up a summer study to look at implementation, but critics worry the state will scrap what voters passed and create their own.
Last week Governor Kristi Noem announced plans to delay implementing a medical marijuana program in partnership with legislative leaders.
Noem says the bill gives the state flexibility to set up the program correctly.
Republican Speaker of the House Spencer Gosch says the legislature is navigating a large workload this session, while dealing with a pandemic.
“The idea that we don’t care about the will of the people is premature,” Gosch says. “I think it’s very premature and I think it’s very inappropriate. Because we do. In fact, this bill is not repealing it. This bill is simply giving is time to be able to valuate it.”
The state is contracting with a cannabis consulting firm that they say recommends the delay.
The ballot question that legalized medical marijuana passed with 70 percent of approval by voters and was set to go into effect on July first of this year. Supporters say it is self executing.
Liz Tiger is from Spearfish and opposes the delay.
Tiger, who has chronic pain and arthritis, says by not implementing what voters approved prevents patients from accessing much needed therapeutics for another 20 months.
“There’s time you just don’t get back,” Tiger says. “You don’t get any days back in your life. When they’re gone they’re gone. If we can make these days better and if we can bring a quality of life to people that they don’t have right now, I think we should do that. I think it’s a bad idea to hold off on that for almost two more years.”
Tiger says she’s concerned lawmakers will scrap the program that was voted on in November. She says lawmakers should use Initiated Measure 26 as a framework and build upon it, as opposed to starting from scratch.
The house committee passed the delay 10 to 3. It heads to the floor.