South Dakota voters in November will again decide via the ballot box whether they want to legalize marijuana.
The Secretary of State on Wednesday certified signatures turned in earlier this month by South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws. The group has worked for more than two years to end Cannabis prohibition in the Mount Rushmore State.
“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,” SDBML Director Matthew Schweich told the Argus Leader.
One Ounce; Three Plants; Sharing Between Adult
The group easily collected enough valid signatures to place the initiated measure on the November ballot, reports KNOX News. It will appear as Initiated Measure 27.
The group needed 16,961 valid signatures. The South Dakota Secretary of State’s Office, based on a sampling, said they turned in 25,023. That’s a validation rate of more than 79% on the 35,588 signatures submitted, according to the Secretary of State.
If approved, people 21 and older can have up to 1 ounce of Cannabis for personal use, reports The South Dakota Standard. They could also grow up to three plants. Gifts of marijuana (without payment) can occur between adults, reports NORML.
“We Are Confident That We Can Achieve Victory For The Second Consecutive Election”
Schweich said that South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws are ready for the election.
“We are very pleased to hear that our initiative has qualified for the November ballot,” Schweich said.
“We would first like to thank the tens of thousands of South Dakotans who took the time to sign our petition,” he added. ”And of course, we would like to extend our heartfelt thanks to the hundreds of volunteers who made this signature drive possible. We are confident that we can achieve victory for the second consecutive election, pass Initiated Measure 27 by a strong margin, and restore the will of the people.”
Defeating June 7 Ballot Question (Amendment C) Is Crucial
While adult-use weed is on the Nov. 8 ballot, the outcome of a ballot question in the June 7 primary will be a crucial part of the campaign.
“But first, we must defeat Amendment C on June 7,” Schweich said. ”Amendment C is a shameful and cowardly attack on the constitutional ballot initiative rights of the people of South Dakota.”
“This convoluted proposal, created by politicians in Pierre, has the potential to cripple the initiative process,” Schweich said. ”And it could even be used to undermine our 2022 cannabis legalization measure. We cannot allow politicians to get away with this. So between now and June 7, we will be 100% focused on crushing Amendment C at the polls.”
Amendment C would require ballot questions to receive an overwhelming 60% for approval if the ballot question creates a tax or fee, or requires $10 million or more state money in any of the first five fiscal years after enactment. Right now, anything that passes by even a single vote is law.
Schweich is “cautiously optimistic” that voters will reject Amendment C. But even if it passes, he said marijuana advocates will argue in court that it should not impact their ballot question. That’s because, Schweich said, it doesn’t reach the $10 million financial limit.
South Dakota Voters Already Approved Legal Weed Once
Voters approved adult-use Cannabis in 2020 along with medical marijuana. South Dakota became the first state ever to legalize both adult-use and medical marijuana at the same time.
Constitutional Amendment A to legalize adult use for people 21 and older passed with a healthy 54% of the vote. It enjoyed a margin of 35,000 votes.
Measure 26, establishing a medical marijuana program in the state, won in a landslide. It got 70% of the vote. Both measures were supposed to take effect on July 1, 2021. Nearly a year later, neither is in effect, and one was thrown out last year.
Governor Kristi Noem Really Hates Weed
Gov. Kristi Noem asked Pennington County Sheriff Kevin Thom and Superintendent of the South Dakota Highway Patrol Colonel Rick Miller to file complaints in circuit court. They followed her wishes. The complaints alleged that Amendment A doesn’t follow constitutional guidelines.
In early 2021, a circuit court judge (appointed by Noem!) placed adult-use marijuana on hold. The Noem judge ruled Amendment A violated the state’s single-subject rule on constitutional amendments.
The South Dakota Supreme Court agreed last fall, rejecting the amendment and nullifying the vote of the people.
“Our Goal Is To Win With Strength”
“We’ve got to run a strong campaign. We’ve got to work hard,” Schweich said, reports South Dakota Public Broadcasting. ”But I do believe that public support for cannabis legalization has increased since 2020. Our goal is to win with strength and to win by a larger margin than we did with Amendment A in 2020.”
“One of the main reasons why we maintained such ambitious goals for our signature drive was to ensure that we had a healthy margin, so we could deter our opponents from filing a lawsuit,” Schweich said.
“This was the plan to have this buffer and be sure there would be no more lawsuits over cannabis initiatives in South Dakota.”