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South Dakota: Major Marijuana Legalization Drive Underway

Activists are ramping up for a major signature gathering effort to once again put legalization on the ballot for 2022

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South Dakota marijuana activists are ramping up for a major signature gathering effort to put legalization on the 2022 ballot. Meanwhile, the state Supreme Court continues to consider a case on the fate of the legal marijuana measure that voters already approved last year.

Advocates are still holding out hope that the state’s top court will issue a positive ruling in the case. But on Thursday’s weekly decision day, the justices announced no action, reports Marijuana Moment. And time is running short to mobilize a ballot campaign to qualify for 2022.

The group South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws is now soliciting volunteers to prepare for a massive signature collection drive. The drive will support any of the four proposed legalization initiatives that the group has filed.

MPP: ‘We Must Prepare For The Worst’

The Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) has played a leading role in Cannabis law reform efforts in South Dakota, The group’s deputy director, Matthew Schweich, told Marijuana Moment that advocates “remain hopeful” the court will uphold the will of voters. But activists said they aren’t taking anything for granted.

“We must prepare for the worst,” Schweich said. “So we are building a grassroots volunteer signature drive operation across the state in order to qualify another cannabis legalization initiative for the 2022 ballot.”

Activists already set things into motion in July. That’s when they filed the four reform measures with the state Legislative Research Council.

Four Initiatives, Four Unique Approaches

The four potential initiatives share some basic provisions. Each, however, takes a unique approach to the policy change. For a summary of what each of the four initiatives would do, click here.

Activists have also filed a fifth measure to eliminate a single-subject rule for the ballot process—a policy that led to a state judge deeming the 2020 recreational measure unconstitutional. Just as happened in another conservative state, Mississippi, judges relied on arcane legal questions to nullify the vote of the people.

Activists face a challenging timeline to get any of the measures approved for circulation. Even once they clear that hurdle, they must to collect enough valid signatures to qualify. The Supreme Court is weighing the fate of 2020’s voter-approved initiative. Meanwhile, the campaign is encouraging prospective volunteers to fill out a form to get prepared for signature gathering.

South Dakota AG, Secretary of State Must Approve

The Legislative Research Council has already approved the four initiatives. Now the state attorney general and Secretary of State must do the same before signature gathering. At that point, advocates will have until November 8 to collect signatures. They’ll need at least 33,921 valid signatures for a constitutional proposal and 16,961 for a statutory measure. The number depends upon what method they choose to use.

The February ruling that nullified the 2020 adult-use legalization vote frustrated activists, of course. The ongoing delay in the Supreme Court’s decision on upholding or overturning that nullification has frayed a few nerves as well. But they see a ray of light. The separate medical marijuana measure that voters also approved approved took effect in July.

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