Narrow adult-use marijuana initiative makes South Dakota ballot

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An adult-use marijuana initiative is headed to the ballot again in South Dakota this fall, but this one is narrow in scope: It paves the way for possession and home grow but not a regulated, commercial market.

South Dakota’s secretary of state office ruled this week that Initiated Measure 27, put forth by South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws, qualified for the Nov. 8 ballot with 25,023 valid signatures based on a random sample.

That total easily exceeded the 16,961 required signatures.

In 2020, 54% of South Dakota’s voters approved a recreational marijuana initiative that would have created what MJBizDaily projected to a be a $285 million commercial market.

Anti-marijuana Gov. Kristi Noem, behind-the-scenes, led a charge to overturn the ballot initiative on a technicality, and the Supreme Court did so last year.

But the state’s highest court took seven months to decide the case after oral arguments – well after 2022 ballot referendum drives had started.

The decision was so delayed that South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws played it safe by drafting a “bulletproof” initiative, Matt Schweich, deputy director of the Marijuana Policy Project in Washington DC, told MJBizDaily in January.

He called the state Supreme Court’s decision deeply flawed and said the delay was disrespectful to voters.

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Measure 27 will allow adults 21 and older to purchase and possess up to an ounce of cannabis as well as grow up to three plants for personal use.

“It turns out that (based on the Supreme Court ruling) we could have run a more liberal referendum,” a vexed Schweich said at the time.