Marijuana legalization initiative qualifies for the South Dakota ballot

On Wednesday, South Dakota Secretary of State Steve Barnett (R) announced that a ballot initiative to legalize marijuana was certified for the ballot. The measure will be titled Initiated Measure 27, and will appear on the general election ballot in November.

South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws led the campaign to place the measure on the ballot, submitting their signature petition on May 3rd, 2022. A random sample found 25,023 signatures to be valid, surpassing the 16,961 signature requirement.

“We are confident that we can achieve victory for the second consecutive election, pass Initiated Measure 27 by a strong margin, and restore the will of the people,” Matthew Schweich, campaign director for South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws, stated in a press release.

If voters approve Initiated Measure 27 in November, the measure will legalize the possession, use, and distribution of marijuana for people aged 21 and over. In South Dakota, the medical use of marijuana was made legal in 2021 after voters passed Initiated Measure 26 in 2020.

Marijuana was previously on the ballot as a constitutional amendment in South Dakota in 2020, referred to as Amendment A. Voters approved of the measure with 54% of the vote, but the measure was overturned by a circuit court ruling in February 2021. Circuit Judge Christina Klinger found the measure unconstitutional, stating that it violated South Dakota’s single subject rule, and was a revision of the constitution rather than an amendment. Melissa Mentele, executive director of New Approach South Dakota, filed the new marijuana initiative in 2021 as a state statute rather than a constitutional amendment. Unlike Amendment A, Initiated Measure 27 does not establish a framework for marijuana taxation or commercial cannabis cultivation, instead leaving these details up to the state.

In South Dakota, 32 citizen-initiated measures appeared on ballots in the 20-year period between 2000 and 2020. Out of these 32 measures, 12 (37.5%) of the measures were voters, while 20 (62.5%) of them were defeated. There is currently one other measure certified for the November general election ballot, referred to as Constitutional Amendment D, which will require South Dakota to provide Medicaid benefits to adults between 18 and 65 with incomes below 133% of the federal poverty level.

Nationwide, there are 15 potential or certified ballot measures in seven states related to marijuana. Maryland is currently the only other state with a certified marijuana measure on the ballot in November. Voters in Arkansas, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, and Oklahoma may also see the issue on their ballots.

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