The following release was issued by South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws:
South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws will submit petitions to the South Dakota Secretary of State at the State Capitol at 1:00 p.m. CT today
Sioux Falls, SD — Today, South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws, the political group that led the 2020 campaign to legalize cannabis in South Dakota, submitted petitions to place an adult-use cannabis legalization initiated measure on the November 2022 ballot.
“We are very proud to submit these petitions, and we are extremely thankful to the voters who added their signatures and to the volunteers who helped us finish this petition drive,” said Matthew Schweich, campaign director for South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws. “This campaign was a statewide grassroots effort that involved thousands of South Dakotans. We will await the official decision from the Secretary of State’s Office, but based on our rigorous internal review of the petitions, we fully expect to qualify for the ballot this November.”
In South Dakota, an initiated measure requires 16,961 signatures from registered voters in order to qualify for the ballot. Today is the deadline for submitting petitions to Pierre.
“We wanted to give every South Dakota voter the opportunity to sign this petition, and over the course of our signature drive we had over 50 different signing locations across the state. Most signature drives are almost entirely completed by professional paid circulators, but that was not the case with this effort. Approximately half of our signatures were collected by volunteers.”
In 2020, South Dakota became the first state in the country to legalize medical cannabis and adult-use cannabis on the same ballot. Following the election, Gov. Kristi Noem orchestrated a lawsuit that ultimately repealed the legalization law approved by 54% of voters. At the same time, she attempted but failed to severely delay implementation of the state’s medical cannabis law, approved by 70% of voters.
“Over the course of this signature drive, our staff had conversations with thousands of South Dakotans from all across the state. Based on our experience, a substantial number of the people who signed our petitions did so primarily because they believe the ballot initiative process must be respected by politicians. This petition drive was bigger than just cannabis – it was an opportunity to restore the will of the people.”
Having received the petitions, the South Dakota Secretary of State’s Office will now review the signatures and determine whether the proposed initiated measure has qualified for the ballot. A decision is expected in the next several weeks.
South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws will now turn its attention to the June 7 vote on Amendment C, a constitutional amendment proposed by the legislature that would permanently change South Dakota’s ballot initiative process.
Schweich provided the following statement on Amendment C:
“Amendment C is a disgraceful sneak attack on the constitutional ballot initiative rights of the people of South Dakota. Placing this type of constitutional amendment on a primary ballot is completely indefensible. Furthermore, the nature of this constitutional amendment is deeply problematic as it will expose the initiative process to increased ligation that could in the end cripple it. South Dakota is the birthplace of the American ballot initiative, an innovative idea that has spread to 24 states and all four corners of our nation. Not only is Amendment C a bad idea, it’s also a shameless attack on South Dakota’s heritage. We are going to take all of the energy and passion that was generated from our signature drive and aim it at Amendment C, which we look forward to defeating on June 7. The political establishment is trying to mislead voters by telling them that Amendment C is about taxes. It’s not about taxes. It’s about politicians trying to control the voice of the people.”
South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws (SDBML) is a registered South Dakota statewide ballot question committee.
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