Marijuana legalization initiative approved for South Dakota ballot

Published: May. 25, 2022 at 3:41 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Election officials say a measure legalizing recreational marijuana in South Dakota will be on the ballot in November.

Secretary of State Steve Barnett said the petition for an initiated measure legalizing possession, use, and distribution of marijuana was validated and filed by his office Wednesday. The measure will be titled Initiated Measure 27 and appear on the 2022 General Election ballot on Nov. 8.

South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws launched the effort to get legalized cannabis on the ballot after a previous voter-approved measure, Amendment A, was struck down in court last year. The group submitted the petition with signatures to the Secretary of State’s office earlier this month. Wednesday’s announcement means enough of the signatures were valid for the measure to be put on the ballot.

Initiated Measure 27 would legalize cannabis for people 21 and over, officials say.

Marijuana has been a topic of political debate in South Dakota since 2020 when voters approved two marijuana-related measures in the November general election. Initiated Measure 26, which legalized medical cannabis, passed with nearly 70% of the vote. The other - Amendment A, legalizing recreational marijuana - passed with 54% approval.

Amendment A faced legal challenges spearheaded by Gov. Kristi Noem, who had been a vocal critic of marijuana legalization. A circuit court ruled the measure was unconstitutional because it covered more than one topic, violating the state’s “single subject” rule. The South Dakota Supreme Court upheld this decision last fall.

Matthew Schweich, campaign director for South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws, expressed confidence that voters will approve IM 27 in November. However, he also voiced concern over Amendment C, a separate measure set to be voted on in the state primaries on June 7. The measure would require future ballot questions requiring the creation of a tax or fee to get 60% of the vote to pass.

“This convoluted proposal, created by politicians in Pierre, has the potential to cripple the initiative process and could even be used to undermine our 2022 cannabis legalization measure,” Schweich said.

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