NEWS
South Dakota Will Vote on Cannabis Legalization This Fall
The Mount Rushmore State will be the first to vote on both medicinal and adult-use cannabis measures in the same year.
Published on January 7, 2020

South Dakota voters will have their voice heard on the legalization of both medicinal and adult-use cannabis this year, thanks to a pair of ballot measures that have now been approved by the local Secretary of State.

According to Marijuana Moment, a legalization petition with more than the required 33,921 signatures was submitted late last year and confirmed by South Dakota regulators on Monday. The confirmation comes hot on the heels of a separate medical marijuana legalization bill, which will make its way to November’s statewide ballot after attaining the required 16,961 signatures.

“South Dakota will become the first state in American history to vote on both medical marijuana and adult-use legalization initiatives on the same ballot,” Matthew Schweich, deputy director of the Marijuana Policy Project, said in an email statement. “The adult-use legalization initiative will greatly benefit the people of South Dakota by ending the injustice of arresting otherwise law-abiding adults for marijuana offenses. It will focus law enforcement resources on fighting serious crime, generate new tax revenue for the state, and create jobs.”

Under the adult-use proposal, South Dakotans age 21 years and older would be allowed to possess and purchase up to one ounce of cannabis and grow as many as three plants at home. If passed, the bill would task the state Department of Revenue with creating a licensing system for cultivators, dispensaries, and product testing labs.

In addition to expansive adult-use provisions, the recreational ballot measure includes its own medical marijuana provision, and a stipulation that would legalize local hemp sales by 2022

As the measure is currently written, all adult use cannabis products would be taxed at a flat rate of 15%. 

Despite relative proximity to cannabis hot spots like Colorado and newly-minted legal state Illinois, South Dakota’s state leadership has consistently opposed cannabis reform measures, with Republican Governor Kristi Noem vetoing a non-psychoactive hemp sales bill just last year.

But with South Dakota’s adult-use and medical marijuana bills now cementing a spot on November’s statewide ballot, the cannabis question will be in the hands of the people, and not politicians.

“At this point, it appears increasingly unlikely that Congress will pass legislation this year to fix our nation’s broken federal marijuana laws,” Schweich of MPP said in the statement. “Therefore it is crucial that our movement win as many ballot initiative campaigns as possible this November and increase the pressure on Congress to take action. That is how we will ensure success at the federal level in 2021.”

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Zach Harris is a writer based in Philadelphia whose work has appeared on Noisey, First We Feast, and Jenkem Magazine. You can find him on Twitter @10000youtubes complaining about NBA referees.
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