South Dakotans to vote on legalizing recreational marijuana
PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — South Dakotans will vote this year on whether to legalize recreational marijuana for adults 21 years and older.
Secretary of State Steve Barnett said Monday his office has validated a proposed constitutional amendment that would legalize marijuana for adults 21 and older and require the state Legislature to enact a hemp cultivation law.
Barnett said his office found the petition had enough valid signatures to put the proposal on the Nov. 3 ballot. A constitutional amendment requires 33,921 valid signatures to qualify for the ballot.
The measure would legalize, regulate and tax marijuana as well as require the Legislature to pass laws on hemp. South Dakota lawmakers passed a bill in 2019 to legalize industrial hemp, but Republican Gov. Kristi Noem vetoed it. Noem has promised another veto if lawmakers pass a hemp bill in 2020, saying law enforcement can’t differentiate between hemp and marijuana. Hemp is related to cannabis but does not contain enough THC to make someone high.
Citizens can still challenge the ballot validation, Barnett said. The deadline to file a challenge is 5 p.m. Central time Feb. 5.
South Dakota voters in November also will decide a measure to allow medical marijuana for patients with serious health conditions. The measure would allow patients with chronic or debilitating health conditions to use and possess up to 3 ounces of marijuana. They would need to get a registration card from the state’s Department of Health.
Matthew Schweich, deputy director for the Marijuana Policy Project, said South Dakota will become the first state to vote on both medical marijuana and adult-use legalization initiatives on the same ballot.
Schweich said the recreational marijuana proposal “will greatly benefit the people of South Dakota by ending the injustice of arresting otherwise law-abiding adults for marijuana offenses” as well as allow law enforcement to focus on fighting serious crime, generate new tax revenue for the state and create jobs.
Eleven states have legalized marijuana for adults. Another 22 states have enacted medical marijuana laws.