SD adult-use cannabis initiative approved to gather signatures

SD adult-use cannabis initiative approved to gather signatures

Last November, South Dakota voters chose to legalize cannabis for adult-use. A clear majority approved Amendment A, a ballot initiative “to legalize the recreational use of marijuana and require the South Dakota State Legislature to pass laws providing for the use of medical marijuana and the sale of hemp by April 1, 2022.”

The will of the voters was overturned three months later, but the fight continues.

According to court documents, opponents of the adult-use provision challenged it in state court by arguing that instead of amending the constitution, Amendment A was a “revision” to the constitution.

In February, Hughes County Circuit Court Judge Christina Klinger ruled the adult-use provision invalid. Supporters appealed the decision, but didn’t wait around for a verdict. They began gathering signatures for a 2022 ballot initiative, in case they failed in court.

South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws, the group behind last year’s cannabis legalization push, announced yesterday that a new initiative has been approved for signature gathering.

Campaign Director Matthew Schweich issued the following press release:

Pierre, SD — Today, the South Dakota Secretary of State approved a proposed 2022 cannabis legalization ballot initiative for signature gathering. The proposed ballot initiative, backed by South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws (SDBML), is a statutory cannabis legalization initiative that would make personal cannabis possession and cultivation legal for adults aged 21 and over. 

To qualify for the 2022 ballot, SDBML must collect just under 17,000 valid signatures from South Dakota voters by November 8, 2021. 

At the 2020 Election, 54% of South Dakota voters approved Amendment A, a constitutional cannabis legalization initiative. However, since then, South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem has orchestrated a taxpayer-funded lawsuit that has suspended implementation of the law. The case is currently before the South Dakota Supreme Court. The hearing was on April 28 but a ruling has still not been issued. 

In 2020, 70% of South Dakota voters also approved Measure 26, a medical cannabis law, making South Dakota the first state to approve recreational and medical cannabis reform at the same time.

Statement from Matthew Schweich, SDBML campaign director:

“We remain hopeful that Amendment A will be restored by the South Dakota Supreme Court. However, the November 8 deadline for 2022 ballot qualification is quickly approaching, and we have no choice but to launch a signature drive.

“In the coming days, we will be distributing petitions to volunteers all across the state and announcing signing locations where voters can easily sign our petitions. We have less than a month to collect the signatures we need, but our supporters are very energized. They are deeply frustrated by Governor Noem’s decision to launch a taxpayer-funded lawsuit against Amendment A, the lack of a ruling in the case, and Governor Noem’s failed attempt to severely delay the implementation of Measure 26.

“We originally filed five potential ballot initiatives, but we are choosing to move forward with the short statutory legalization initiative because it is the most likely to withstand any future legal challenges.”
 
Helpful links:

SDBML website: https://www.southdakotamarijuana.org/

More information about the Amendment A lawsuit: https://www.southdakotamarijuana.org/lawsuit

The initiative text and related documents can be accessed here: https://sdsos.gov/elections-voting/upcoming-elections/general-information/2022-ballot-questions.aspx
 

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South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws (SDBML) is a registered South Dakota statewide ballot question committee working to establish better marijuana laws for the people of South Dakota. SDBML led the campaign that passed Amendment A and Measure 26 in 2020, played a central role in the grassroots campaign to defend Measure 26 during the legislative session earlier this year, and provided fundraising and communications support to the Amendment A legal defense campaign.