Recreational cannabis legalization was a success for South Dakota in 2020, with a 54.2% to 45.8% vote passing in favor of this bill during the Nov 2019 election. This is great news for the sparsely populated state of less than a million residents. Legal cannabis means I will take a trip to South Dakota soon to take in the beauty of the state. Whereas a year ago, I would have avoided the state as so many others do, and I may continue to do so depending on the outcome of Amendment A in the South Dakota circuit court.
Cannabis legalization is a beautiful thing. When I visit a state like South Dakota that recently legalized cannabis, I’m connecting with a part of our country that I’ve never physically seen before. A place I wouldn’t have otherwise seen because I would never have gone there willingly while they participate in draconian cannabis prohibition. I stop in small towns for gas, food, shopping, entertainment, and lodging along the way. I share pictures with family, friends, and others that just may make them want to check the place out too.
Lawmakers are Slowing Progress Rather than Embracing Change
This should be welcomed by lawmakers of the state. They should encourage the growth of South Dakota, both socially and economically. They should also encourage and promote the health and well being of their citizens. Sadly, not everyone is happy about cannabis legalization in South Dakota, and it shows.
Lawmakers, as some like to call them, are slowing progress with cannabis legalization in South Dakota by telling state lawyers not to work with cannabis businesses. Now, what kind of good sense does that make? The people voted to legalize something, and it won. But the losing side says we’re not done fighting yet and will hamper and attempt to block you at every corner.
This type of thinking needs to stop. It is not serving America well. We need to work together to usher in a new era for the planet and humankind. Stop wasting tax dollars fighting cannabis legalization and start using them to implement its legalization. These are dollars that could be better spent in other areas such as education and community development.
The Current State of Legalization in South Dakota
Currently, the validity of Amendment A, which voters in South Dakota approved during the November election, is being challenged in circuit court.
According to media reports, “The State Bar of South Dakota ethics committee says a South Dakota lawyer may not ethically provide legal services to a client engaged in marijuana activities when the sale of marijuana is legal in South Dakota but prohibited by federal law.” Yet, many other states have no issue with lawyers working with cannabis businesses. This just seems like a feeble attempt by a dying breed of fossil politicians at an attempt to cling on to marijuana prohibition and the wrath of Reefer Madness.
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The ethics committee website says, “Action taken in reliance on a formal ethics opinion of the Committee is protected against discipline.” The State Bar website says, “Discipline may range from a private reprimand by the board, public censure, suspension from practice for a specified time, placement on probation, to disbarment by the Supreme Court.” All of this is over the passing of Amendment A, which should be a good thing for democracy, not an invite for debauchery. Let’s look at what the Ethics Committee had to say about all of this.
The State Bar Had a Lot to Say
The ethics opinion suggested to state lawyers in South Dakota was published by the State Bar of South Dakota in a newsletter. The opinion made by the State Bar referred to rule 1.2(d) of the South Dakota Rules of Professional Conduct, which states: “[a] lawyer shall not counsel a client to engage, or assist a client, in conduct the lawyer knows is criminal or fraudulent, but lawyer may discuss the legal consequences of any proposed course of conduct with a client and may counsel or assist a client to make a good faith effort to determine the validity, scope, meaning or application of the law.”
It doesn’t stop here. The opinion of the State Bar goes on saying,
“Rule 1.2(d) does not distinguish between client conduct that is illegal under South Dakota law and client conduct that is illegal only under federal law. It applies to any illegal client conduct. Consequently, a lawyer may not ethically provide legal services to assist a client in establishing, licensing, or otherwise operating a marijuana business. Lawyer may only advise a client considering this course of action about the potential legal consequences of doing so, under either state or federal law, or assist the client in making a good faith effort to determine the validity, scope, meaning, or application of the relevant state and federal law.”
Now, to really make things complicated, Section 9 of Amendment A says, “A holder of a professional or occupational license is not subject to professional discipline for providing advice or services related to marijuana licensees or applications on the basis that marijuana is prohibited by federal law.”
It’s Time to Allow the Changes Voters Overwhelmingly Chose
Man, it sounds like some folks in South Dakota need a hug. Cant, we all get along? Why does it have to continue to be like this? Increase the peace and let go of the wicked ways of the past. It’s time to focus on healing the nation and our planet so that there’s a future for generations to come. Let’s hope that lawmakers in South Dakota don’t become law takers and continue to stand against the will of the people in a typical government fashion. Stop dividing states with draconian cannabis laws from the past and unite the states with equality instead.
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