South Dakota adult-use cannabis campaign hits signature-gathering snag

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A campaign to legalize adult-use cannabis in South Dakota missed an early deadline to submit signatures to the secretary of state’s office in a bid to qualify its recreational legalization question for the 2022 November ballot.

In a video posted to Facebook on Monday, South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws (SDBML) Director Matthew Schweich said the campaign fell short of its signature-gathering goals, which would have had to be submitted by Nov. 8 to be considered for next year’s general election.

But, Schweich said, a ruling by a federal judge has given the campaign months of additional runway: A new deadline to submit signatures to the state is May 3, 2022.

The SDBML campaign was cleared in mid-October to begin collecting the roughly 17,000 signatures needed to make the ballot.

That timing gave volunteers only three weeks to reach the signature threshold, and Schweich admitted the campaign fell short on that goal.

He did not disclose how many signatures had been collected to date.

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“Originally, we did want to get it done by today, to eliminate any legal uncertainty,” Schweich said in the video announcement. “But we think that the deadline extension is something we can use.

“This is a setback, but not a defeat. This is not over. The work continues.”

Schweich added that there are three avenues to victory for South Dakota legalization advocates:

  • A victory in the state Supreme Court – which has yet to rule on a lawsuit that seeks to overturn the voter-approved recreational marijuana legalization ballot measure from 2020.
  • State lawmakers could legalize adult use through legislation.
  • The campaign could make the 2022 ballot and win a second time at the ballot box.

“In the end, one of those three outs … is going to work out,” Schweich predicted.