South Dakota is teeing up to be the next state to legalize adult-use cannabis. Attorney General Marty Jackley submitted the proposed measure to Secretary of State Monae Johnson on November 17. The draft summary of the measure was made public as required by state law so that the public will have 10 days to review and comment.
That gives South Dakotans until November 27 to write in with their thoughts on the measure. After that, the Attorney General gets another 10 days to write the final summary of the legislation, which would get submitted back to the State Secretary.
In order to get this legislation on the ballot in 2024, 17,509 residents will have to sign a petition in favor of the measure. As of 2021, the state had just over 800,000 residents.
In 2020, South Dakota voters passed Initiated Measure 26 which legalized medical cannabis. As of November 20, 2023, there were 254 approved practitioners and 12,791 approved patient cards. There are currently 90 medical dispensaries in the state.
Try Try Again
This isn’t the first time the state has tried to initiate adult use legislation. In 2020, South Dakota voters rejected an adult-use cannabis legalization ballot measure. According to Marijuana Moment, an earlier version was approved but that was ultimately invalidated by the state Supreme Court. The Governor has demonstrated that she isn’t a big fan of adult-use cannabis and polls in the state also show that supporters of the initiative have their work cut out for them.
Indeed, there is a separate piece of legislation that would repeal the state’s medical cannabis law and yet another that would keep federally banned substances from ever being legalized in the state. The state attorney general finalized the ballot explanation for the medical marijuana repeal measure in August according to Marijuana Moment. South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws claim that the repeal legislation did not follow proper procedures and should be thrown out.
Medical Operators Get First Dibs
If the legislation were passed, current medical operators would be able to get dual-use licenses that would enable them to sell cannabis to people over the age of 21 for non-medical purposes. Municipalities won’t be able to stop adult use dispensaries from opening, but they would be able to limit the number of licenses.
Individuals would be able to grow up to six plants and households can grow up to 12 plants. In addition to that, it would still be illegal to drive while under the influence of cannabis or to possess and consumers would need to be over the age of 21.
There is significance in the South Dakota vote for the entire country. Since Ohio became the 24th state to legalize adult-use cannabis, if South Dakota were next that would mean half the country has voted to legalize adult-use cannabis. Comparing that to the end of alcohol prohibition, by 1933 there were 36 states that had approved alcohol consumption pushing the government to end prohibition with the 21st amendment.
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