The South Dakota House of Representatives passed two bills aimed at informing medical marijuana patients about the federal restrictions on gun ownership.
The bills, primarily sponsored by Rep. Kevin Jensen (R), passed with varying degrees of support; the application-specific bill received an overwhelming 68-1 vote, while the dispensary-focused bill passed in a closer 42-27 vote.
The legislation mandates medical marijuana patient applications and dispensaries must include notices about federal law prohibiting gun possession by individuals who use or are addicted to marijuana. Failure to comply with this requirement could result in daily fines for the dispensaries.
This initiative is part of a broader effort to ensure patients are fully informed about the legal implications of their medical choices.
Jensen, who has experience as a firearms dealer and trainer, says the bills do not infringe on a South Dakotan’s ability to get a medical marijuana card, noted Dakota News Now, but rather provide necessary information for making informed decisions.
“All this bill (HB1024) would require on the application for a medical marijuana card is the same language used on the federal form (to purchase a firearm),” Jensen said. “It is simply to inform the public that this is federal law.”
The bill requiring dispensaries to post notices about the federal statute at entrances and points of sale has sparked debate, with some industry stakeholders arguing that it imposes an undue burden on businesses. However, Jensen emphasized that the policy would not incur additional costs for dispensaries and noted that the proposed $250 per day fine for non-compliance is comparatively lower than penalties for similar infractions in other regulatory contexts.
The Department of Health would be responsible for enforcing this policy by checking for compliance during routine inspections. The signage required under this bill would warn patients about the federal law’s prohibition of firearm possession by individuals using or addicted to marijuana, citing 18 U.S.C. § 922(g).
This legislation is set against a backdrop of ongoing legal debates.
The Justice Department has consistently supported the necessity of this ban in various federal courts, citing historical precedents and arguing that marijuana users possessing firearms represent a societal threat. However, several federal courts have challenged this stance, ruling the marijuana-related firearm ban unconstitutional in some cases, which has prompted appeals from the Department of Justice.
Both measures are now headed to a state Senate committee.