Several measures to legalize cannabis will soon be put to a vote in South Dakota. The upcoming 2020 General Election ballot in November will include a proposed constitutional amendment to legalize recreational cannabis for adult residents over the age of 21 across the Mount Rushmore State.
In addition, a proposal to make medical cannabis available to patients with qualifying health conditions will also be on the ballot. Similar attempts to legalize medical cannabis in the past have failed to pass in South Dakota. This will also be the first time that voters will have to decide on medical and recreational legalization on the same ticket.
The constitutional amendment being proposed comes as a direct result of over 36,700 signatures submitted in the form of a petition. A press release by Republican Secretary of State Steven Barnett said, “As outlined in South Dakota Codified Law § 2-1-16, our office conducted a random sample of the petition signatures and found 68.74 percent to be valid.”
Secretary Barnett (@sodaksos) tweeted just last week that “Secretary of State Steve Barnett announced a petition submitted for an amendment to the South Dakota Constitution was validated and filed by his office today. This ballot measure would legalize, regulate, and tax marijuana and require the Legislature to pass laws regarding hemp, including laws to ensure access to marijuana for medical use.”
In a recent interview with Marijuana Moment, Deputy Director of the Marijuana Policy Project, Matthew Schweich expressed his support over the proposed ballot initiatives to legalize cannabis, saying, “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. 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.”
Going on, said Schweich, “At this point, it appears increasingly unlikely that Congress will pass legislation this year to fix our nation’s broken federal marijuana laws. 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.”
At least 16 different states are currently considering measures to legalize either medical or recreational cannabis in 2020. A similar constitutional amendment to make medical marijuana legal in Mississippi recently qualified for the upcoming November ballot. To learn more about the various ballot initiatives being proposed across the country, check out this recent Forbes article.
The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) has published an updated and interactive map of pending marijuana legislation according to state here. If you’d like to get more involved with the movement to legalize cannabis and end marijuana prohibition once and for all, you can contact your local NORML office to find volunteer opportunities in your area.