It’s Official: South Dakota Voters Will Decide on Recreational And Medical Marijuana in 2020

Marijuana advocates in South Dakota have cause for celebration this week after state officials okayed enough signatures to trigger a voter referendum for legalizing recreational marijuana in 2020.

It’s official. South Dakota will be the first state in the country to vote on medical and recreational cannabis in the same election. South Dakota state officials on Monday announced that enough valid signatures were submitted to place a constitutional amendment on the Nov. 2020 ballot that could legalize recreational marijuana.

The South Dakota Secretary of State’s Office announced that it has validated the initiated constitutional amendment, which is set to appear on the 2020 ballot as Constitutional Amendment A. In December, state officials okayed Initiated Measure 26, which could legalize medical marijuana.

Matthew Schweich, deputy director at the Marijuana Policy Project, released a statement after the official news was released.

South Dakota will become the first state in American history to vote on medical marijuana and adult-use legalization initiatives on the same ballot – Matthew Schweich, Marijuana Policy Project

“The adult-use legalization initiative will greatly benefit the people of South Dakota by ending the injustice of arresting otherwise law-abiding adults for marijuana offenses,” Schweich said. “It will focus law enforcement resources on fighting serious crime, generate new tax revenue for the state, and create jobs.”

Pair of Cannabis Ballot Measures in South Dakota

The campaign groups behind both ballot measures gathered more than 80,000 signatures to hand over to state officials. South Dakotans For Better Marijuana Laws, led by former U.S. Attorney Brendan Johnson, is petitioning for legal access to recreational marijuana.

The constitutional initiative for legal access to recreational cannabis would permit individuals 21 years of age and older to possess and buy up to one ounce of cannabis and cultivate up to three plants. The initiative would create a system to license and regulate marijuana businesses and establish a 15 percent tax on cannabis sales.

The adult-use initiative directs a significant portion of the cannabis tax revenue to support South Dakota’s public school system. Additionally, the measure also applies a 2022 deadline for the state’s legislature to pass laws regulating the cultivation, processing, and sale of hemp.

Find the full recreational marijuana initiative, here.

The medical marijuana measure is meant as a complementary statutory initiative to the recreational cannabis amendment. Initiated Measure 26 would legalize medical marijuana for patients diagnosed with serious health conditions. Those with a qualified doctor’s recommendation can register for the program.

Additionally, the measure also establishes a regulatory system of dispensaries managed by the state’s department of health and require laboratory testing to ensure product safety. Find the full medical marijuana measure, here.

South Dakota is one of the 11 states most positioned to legalize marijuana in 2020.

South Dakota Cannabis Laws

Despite an increase in support from state residents, South Dakota lawmakers have not historically been behind marijuana legalization. South Dakota’s current cannabis laws are some of the strictest in the country, including the full prohibition of industrial hemp and all forms of CBD oil with the exception of the FDA-approved medication Epidiolex.

Governor Kristi Noem (R) has previously vetoed a bill to legalize the cultivation of hemp, and in September she echoed her opposition by pledging to veto the issue again in 2020.

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