PIERRE, S.D. (Feb. 24, 2022) – Yesterday, the South Dakota Senate passed a bill to legalize marijuana for adult use despite ongoing federal cannabis prohibition.

Sen. Michael Rohl (R) introduced Senate Bill 3 (SB3) on Jan. 11, along with a bipartisan coalition of 13 cosponsors. Under the proposed law, adults 21 and older could legally purchase and possess up to one ounce of marijuana from licensed retailers. The bill would not allow homegrown cannabis.

On Feb. 23, SB3 passed the Senate by an 18-17 vote.

South Dakota voters approved a ballot measure to legalize marijuana in 2020, but it was overturned in a lawsuit pushed by Gov. Kristie Noem (R).

Marijuana Moment also reported that Noem won’t rule out a veto of SB3, and reiterated her opposition to passage:

Gov. Kristi Noem (R) was asked about the issue at a press briefing on Wednesday…

The governor didn’t give a clear answer when asked about whether she’d veto such a bill, except to say that “it’s hard to talk in hypotheticals,” and she’s “not in favor of recreational marijuana.”

“I still believe I haven’t seen anybody get smarter from smoking dope,” she said, adding that she’s “supported medical marijuana for years.” (In fact, she opposed the separate 2020 medical cannabis initiative that voters also approved that year.)


South Dakota legalized medical marijuana by ballot initiative in 2020 and opened the first dispensary last summer despite ongoing federal cannabis prohibition.

Under the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA) passed in 1970, the federal government maintains complete prohibition of marijuana. Of course, the federal government lacks any constitutional authority to ban or regulate cannabis within the borders of a state, despite the opinion of the politically connected lawyers on the Supreme Court. If you doubt this, ask yourself why it took a constitutional amendment to institute federal alcohol prohibition.

The legalization of marijuana for personal use in South Dakota would take the next step and remove another layer of laws prohibiting the possession and use of marijuana in the state even though federal prohibition would remain in effect. This is significant because FBI statistics show that law enforcement makes approximately 99 of 100 marijuana arrests under state, not federal law. When states stop enforcing marijuana laws, they sweep away most of the basis for 99 percent of marijuana arrests.

Furthermore, figures indicate it would take 40 percent of the DEA’s yearly budget just to investigate and raid all of the dispensaries in Los Angeles – a single city in a single state. That doesn’t include the cost of prosecution. The lesson? The feds lack the resources to enforce marijuana prohibition without state assistance.


Colorado, Washington state, Oregon and Alaska were the first states to legalize recreational cannabis, and California, Nevada, Maine and Massachusetts joined them after ballot initiatives in favor of legalization passed in November 2016. Michigan followed suit when voters legalized cannabis for general use in 2018. Vermont became the first state to legalize marijuana through a legislative act in 2018. Illinois followed suit in 2019. New Jersey, Montana and Arizona all legalized recreational marijuana through ballot measures in the 2020 election. Earlier this year, New YorkNew MexicoVirginia and Connecticut legalized marijuana through legislative action.

With 37 states allowing cannabis for medical use, and 18 legalizing for adult recreational use, the feds find themselves in a position where they simply can’t enforce prohibition anymore.

The lesson here is pretty straightforward. When enough people say, ‘No!’ to the federal government, and enough states pass laws backing those people up, there’s not much the feds can do to shove their so-called laws, regulations, or mandates down our throats.


SB3 will move to the House for further consideration. At the time of this report, it had not been referred to a House committee. Once it receives a committee assignment, it must get a hearing and pass by a majority vote before moving forward in the legislative process.

Mike Maharrey

The 10th Amendment

“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”



Featured Articles

On the Constitution, history, the founders, and analysis of current events.

featured articles


Tenther Blog and News

Nullification news, quick takes, history, interviews, podcasts and much more.

tenther blog


State of the Nullification Movement

232 pages. History, constitutionality, and application today.

get the report


Path to Liberty

Our flagship podcast. Michael Boldin on the constitution, history, and strategy for liberty today

path to liberty


Maharrey Minute

The title says it all. Mike Maharrey with a 1 minute take on issues under a 10th Amendment lens. maharrey minute

Tenther Essentials

2-4 minute videos on key Constitutional issues - history, and application today


Join TAC, Support Liberty!

Nothing helps us get the job done more than the financial support of our members, from just $2/month!



The 10th Amendment

History, meaning, and purpose - the "Foundation of the Constitution."

10th Amendment



Get an overview of the principles, background, and application in history - and today.