The Secretary of State for South Dakota confirmed there will be a marijuana legalization question on the November ballot after cannabis reform advocates handed in the required number of signatures to qualify the measure.
This marks the second election in a row that voters will decide whether or not to reform South Dakota’s cannabis laws to allow its possession and use by adults 21 and older.
The group behind the new ballot measure – South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws – was also behind the 2020 effort, which was approved by a majority of voters but struck down in the courts following a legal challenge brought forward by Gov. Kristi Noem’s administration.
A district court judge sided with the plaintiff that the proposal broke South Dakota’s one-subject rule for constitutional amendments, and this was reaffirmed by the state Supreme Court following an appeal.
“We are very pleased that we’ve qualified for the ballot and we are extremely thankful to everyone who signed our petitions, our volunteers, our staff and our supporters,” said Matthew Schweich, director of South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws. “We look forward to being on the ballot in November and we’re confident we can win again and restore the will of the people of South Dakota.”
The proposal – Measure 27 – would allow adults to possess up to one ounce of cannabis, grow up to three mature plants, and gift a limited quantity without remuneration. It does not include any provisions allowing for licensed cannabis production or retail sales. This omission is largely due to the Supreme Court’s ruling.
Confirmation of a marijuana legalization question on South Dakota’s upcoming ballot follows the death in the House of a Senate-approved bill to legalize cannabis possession and sales in the state.
In recent times, Gov. Kristi Noem signed a bill into law protecting medical marijuana patients’ rights to grow their own cannabis plants at home, but she decided to veto legislation that would have allowed for automatic expungement of certain low-level cannabis-related offenses.
Commenting on the new ballot initiative to legalize recreational cannabis in South Dakota, NORML deputy director Paul Armentano commended the efforts of marijuana reform activists in the face of testing circumstances.
“It is a testament to the grassroots support that exists in favor of legalization in South Dakota that advocates were successful in their effort to once again place the legalization question before voters,” he said. “Most South Dakotans, like most voters elsewhere, oppose the notion of criminalizing adults simply for the possession and use of cannabis and we are confident that they will once again make their voices heard at the ballot box.”
South Dakota now joins Maryland and Missouri as one of the states that will decide on a marijuana legalization proposal this November.