Breaking down the second recreational marijuana initiated measure

Published: Nov. 20, 2023 at 10:15 PM CST
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - For the third time in six years South Dakota voters could be deciding whether to legalize recreational marijuana.

The group behind the last two efforts is making another run for 2024, but as we told you last week, a second ballot measure is in the works.

We caught up with Emmitt Reistroffer who drafted the legislation, to learn more about why he believes it was necessary.

“The question is no longer should we legalize cannabis for adult use, but how should we legalize cannabis for adult use,” Reistroffer said.

Reistroffer is the Chief Operating Officer for the Sioux Falls-based medical marijuana dispensary Genesis Farms.

The measure would allow anyone 21 years old or older to possess, grow, sell, use, and distribute marijuana. It would also authorize the Department of Health to issue dual-use licenses to medical marijuana dispensaries which will allow them to sell marijuana to anyone over 21.

”I just think it’s important that voters consider that the black market is the competition. It does not benefit South Dakotans for cannabis to be bought and sold on the streets where it’s not tested it’s not taxed. It may be coming in out of state it may be grown illegally in your neighborhood. You just don’t know where it comes from,” Reistroffer said.

Reistroffer believes his measure is more comprehensive than the one proposed by the group “South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws,” specifically in terms of distribution.

”Making sure that the supply chain is regulated and dispensaries are licensed and regulated to sell cannabis as well. The other initiative does not address the supply chain or the sale of cannabis and that’s really the key difference,” Reistroffer said.

Recreational and medical marijuana were both passed in the 2020 election, but the South Dakota Supreme Court later struck down the recreational measure as unconstitutional for violating the state’s single-subject law.

Reistroffer is confident his proposal would not hit the same roadblock because it doesn’t deal with hemp the way “Amendment A” did in 2020.

“When I went to draft this initiative I paid very careful attention to the opinions that were issued by the supreme court justices in the Thum ruling regarding the single subject,” Reistroffer said.

If approved, the measure would need more than 17,000 signatures to appear on the 2024 ballot. For now, Reistroffer is keeping his eye on the other measure.

“I don’t think anybody who is putting their time effort and money towards cannabis legalization wants to see two separate initiatives. It’s certainly possible but it’s highly unlikely,” Reistroffer added, ”As long as the other initiative is making progress and is on track to hit the ballot, I don’t think my initiative is going to move forward,” Reistroffer said.

If Reistroffer decides to not move forward he says he’s content with continuing to provide for medical patients.

”I just cannot reiterate enough we need to focus on the patients. Those are the folks that need it for medical reasons. Those are the folks who started this movement. Those are the folks that we shouldn’t forget about,” Reistroffer said.