South Dakota adult-use marijuana measure moves closer to ballot

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Cannabis advocates in South Dakota submitted roughly 29,000 signatures this week to get an adult-use marijuana legalization referendum on the state’s November ballot.

That total is well above the 17,508 valid signatures required by state law to get a referendum on a ballot.

But those signatures now must be certified by Secretary of State Monae Johnson, the Associate Press reported, and she has until Aug. 13 to do so.

The ballot initiative petition doesn’t propose any business licensing, taxation or other regulations, according to the AP.

This is the third time in four years that South Dakotans are trying to legalize recreational cannabis.

In 2020, South Dakota became the first state where voters approved both recreational and medical marijuana legalization in the same election.

But the state Supreme Court struck down the adult-use measure on a procedural technicality.

Then, in 2022, voters in the state rejected a measure that would have allowed adults to possess and use home-grown cannabis but wouldn’t have created a recreational marijuana market.

In pushing the new adult-use referendum, Matthew Schweich, campaign director of South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws, told the AP that “… if we’re going to allow alcohol to be legal in our society, then it makes absolutely no sense to punish people for using cannabis, because alcohol is more harmful to the individual and to society than cannabis.”

He said adult-use legalization in South Dakota would:

  • Ease access to marijuana for people who can’t get medical cards.
  • Free police resources to be used elsewhere.
  • Provide tax revenue for the state.