Welcome back to The Week in Weed, your Friday look at what’s happening in the world of legalized marijuana. This week, we return to South Dakota, where some people want adult-use to be legal and some want medical marijuana to be rescinded. Then we have a follow-up on the New York situation. We check in on Alabama, where licensing has been an issue. We note that New Hampshire will now be studying legalization. And we turn our attention overseas, to check in on the German legalization process. And finally, we report on a CBD bar in South Carolina.
We’ve not reported on South Dakota in a while, although there was a time when it was in the news a lot. At present, medical marijuana is legal and adult-use is not. People seem to be dissatisfied with both of those conditions, and they’re going the ballot initiative route to change things. There are three (count ’em three) measures at play now.
First is a measure that would legalize adult-use. If you’ve not been following this saga, South Dakota legalized adult-use via ballot initiative in 2020. That measure was subsequently invalidated by the state Supreme Court. Another adult-use initiative was rejected in 2022. The state’s attorney general has released a draft summary of the measure for public comment.
There’s also a measure that would repeal the state’s medical marijuana program. The AG has released a final summary of that, so those backing the measure can begin collecting signatures. Since the medical cannabis initiative passed with about 70% support in 2020, it seems unlikely that public opinion has swung so far in the opposite direction, but in South Dakota, never say never.
Finally, the same person who is backing the MMJ repeal initiative (conservative activist Travis Ismay) has yet another idea – a ballot initiative that would ban any future ballot initiatives that seek to legalize any drug that is illegal at the federal level. Fasten your seat belts – it’s going to be a bumpy ride!
As we promised you last week, we have an update on the New York licensing situation. At a hearing held last Friday, a judge ordered a two-week extension to the cannabis licensing ban. No one’s terribly happy about this outcome (or lack thereof), especially those who have made financial investments in businesses they are not able to open. Some had hoped that the state Legislature might step in to fix the situation, but that seems unlikely.
I think it’s always difficult when there’s a pending court case to ask the Legislature to fix something when you don’t know what the resulting decision won’t be by the courts.NY Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D)
New York isn’t alone in its licensing difficulties. Alabama has been having problems of its own. The state had issued medical cannabis licenses in June of this year, but then found that there were issues with the scoring method used to award those licenses. All proceedings were stayed until the issues could be cleared up. Now, the state’s Medical Cannabis Commission has revoked all previously awarded licenses and issued new licenses. Awardees will have 14 days to submit the licensing fee. Seems like a happy ending, right? Wrong. Medical cannabis company Alabama Always has sued the commission, alleging that they violated the state’s Open Meetings Act.
The Granite State stands alone as the only New England state to prohibit adult use of cannabis. Governor Chris Sununu (R) has been a vocal opponent of legalization for quite some time, but has recently bowed to the inevitable and shown some signs of softening his position. He recently signed into law a bill that would set up a commission to study adult-use legalization. Sales would be conducted through state-run dispensaries, similar to the state’s liquor stores, which is the only distribution model Sununu will accept.
But not all the news is in the states, or even in the U.S. Germany’s Federal Cabinet has approved a plan to legalize cannabis for adult use. The next step is the country’s legislature, which is expected to take up the measure in the fall. Should it pass, Germany would be the largest country in Europe to legalize cannabis, and time will tell if other countries will follow suit.
If you’re looking for a cannabis-infused mocktail, head to South Carolina. The Dry Bar will offer up drinks with CBD, delta-8 or delta-9, but without alcohol.
Be well everyone – we’ll be off next week, but The Week in Weed will return on Friday, September 1.