Senate Commerce & Energy Committee passed bill dealing with marijuana

PIERRE, S.D.(SDBA)- A legislative committee is pushing forward a bill that would decriminalize and regulate marijuana in South Dakota. The bill passed the Senate Commerce and Energy committee with a vote of 5 to 3.

Senate Bill 3 reduces the charge for possessing small amounts of marijuana from a felony to a misdemeanor for people over the age of 21. It also adjusts the classes for misdemeanors and felonies related to marijuana.

Opponents of the bill argue decriminalizing marijuana will increase black market sales of the drug. They also say it will be difficult for law enforcement to enforce regulations. 

Proponents of the bill say decriminalizing and legalizing recreational marijuana was what the voters wanted, and the legislature should uphold that. They also say regulating the industry will remove the incentive for black market dealers and thus decrease black market sales.

Republican Senator Michael Rohl of District 1 is the bill’s prime sponsor. He says Senate Bill 3 is the best way for the legislature to be able to weigh in about future regulations regarding recreational marijuana.