South Dakota voters get another chance to approve adult-use cannabis

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Will the third time be the charm or the final strike in November, when South Dakota voters weigh in on legalizing the possession, use and cultivation of cannabis by adults?

The issue will become clearer in South Dakota’s upcoming general election, after the office of Secretary of State Monae Johnson on Monday confirmed that the adult-use legalization campaign had gathered enough valid signatures to appear on the November ballot, according to the Associated Press.

The petition needed 17,508 signatures from registered voters in South Dakota to make the ballot.

Based on a random sample, Johnson’s office “estimated that petitioners collected 22,558 valid signatures,” the South Dakota Searchlight reported.

That means South Dakotans will vote on adult use for the third time in four years.

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, acting on a challenge initiated by Gov. Kristi Noem, eventually struck down the measure on a technicality.

Then, in 2022, South Dakota voters rejected an initiative that would have allowed adults to possess and use home-grown cannabis but wouldn’t have created a recreational cannabis market.

According to the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), the proposal going before voters in November:

  • Would not establish rules and regulations for a commercial industry.
  • Would allow adults to “engage in the personal possession and home cultivation of limited quantities of cannabis” (2 ounces of flower, 16 grams of concentrates and up to six plants).

The initiative also permits marijuana cultivation, within guidelines.

If voters approve the proposal submitted by South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws, backers “plan to work with the Legislature to implement business licensing, tax and other regulations,” the AP reported.