South Dakota Could Legalize Recreational And Medical Marijuana in 2020

South Dakota cannabis advocates gathered more than 80,000 signatures to place two marijuana legalization ballot initiatives in the state’s 2020 election.

After several failed attempts, South Dakota cannabis advocates are back with more support than ever to legalize recreational and medical cannabis.

On Nov. 4, marijuana reform groups announced they had gathered more than 80,000 signatures to hand over to the South Dakota Secretary of State to qualify two separate cannabis reform ballot initiatives for the 2020 election.

“We are proud to have submitted petitions on behalf of over 80,000 South Dakotans who believe that voters should decide our state’s marijuana and hemp laws,” stated former United States Attorney and ballot sponsor Brendan Johnson in a press release.

The South Dakota Secretary of State is responsible for verifying the validity of the signatures. The process could take a few months.

Recreational Marijuana Ballot Initiative

Marijuana reform group South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws submitted over 50,000 signatures for a constitutional ballot initiative to legalize, regulate, and tax recreational use for adults 21 and older. The minimum number of signatures required for a constitutional initiative is 33,921.

Sales of marijuana products would be subject to a 15 percent tax, with revenue going to fund the law’s implementation as well as public education programs and South Dakota’s general fund. The measure also requires the state legislature to enact laws regulating the cultivation, processing, and sale of hemp.

To fund the campaign, South Dakota For Better Marijuana Laws has partnered with two national organizations, the Marijuana Policy Project and New Approach Political Action Committee. Both groups have worked with other states to successfully approve cannabis access laws.

Medical Marijuana Ballot Initiative

Another campaign, New Approach South Dakota gathered more than 30,000 signatures for a statutory ballot initiative that would pass a medical marijuana law for qualifying patients. Qualified patients would also be allowed to personally grow up to three plants. The minimum number of signatures for a statutory ballot initiative is 16,961.

“For many years, we have asked the legislature to address the issue of medical marijuana,” stated Melissa Mentele, director of New Approach South Dakota and sponsor of the medical marijuana ballot initiative in a press release.

“Despite the fact that a strong majority of South Dakotans support allowing legal, regulated, and safe access to medical marijuana for patients with debilitating conditions, elected officials have failed to take action. Patients cannot afford to wait any longer, and this ballot initiative is our only recourse,” she added.

South Dakota’s Current Marijuana Laws

South Dakota has earned a reputation for being one of the most conservative states in the nation when it comes to cannabis laws. To date, there have been no changes in cannabis policy and both recreational and medical use remains illegal. The only exception can be found on Native American reservations.

A 2014 decision by the United States’ Justice Department’s decision allowed legal marijuana agriculture and sale on American Indian lands in the state. The Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe became the first tribe in the country to legalize cannabis.

While cannabis advocates have worked to pass marijuana initiatives, there has yet to be one approved. Medical marijuana initiatives were placed on the state’s election ballots in both 2006 and 2010, but voters failed to pass both. Cannabis advocates once again sought to place cannabis reform measures on the state election ballot in 2016, but failed to gather enough valid signatures.

For more information on South Dakota marijuana laws, check out our South Dakota marijuana laws education page.

More on Cannabis

Eleven states have legalized recreational marijuana and 33 have legalized marijuana for medical use. Find out what states have legal cannabis access by checking out our Marijuana Legalization Map. To learn more about cannabis news in policy, business and scientific research, visit our news page.