Marijuana legalization initiative qualifies for the South Dakota ballot

Welcome to the Tuesday, May 31, Brew. 

By: Samuel Wonacott

Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Marijuana legalization initiative qualifies for the South Dakota ballot
  2. Iowa’s June 7 primaries 
  3. Mississippi’s June 7 primaries

Marijuana legalization initiative qualifies for the South Dakota ballot

On May 25, South Dakota Secretary of State Steve Barnett (R) announced that  an initiative that would legalize marijuana, officially titled Initiated Measure 27, will appear on the November ballot.

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

If voters approve the proposal, people aged 21 and over will be able to legally possess, use, and distribute marijuana.South Dakota legalized medical marijuana in 2021 after voters passed Initiated Measure 26 in 2020.

Voters approved a marijuana legalization measure—Amendment A—54% to 46% in 2020. A state circuit court ruled the amendment was unconstitutional February 2021. Circuit Judge Christina Klinger ruled the measure 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.

South Dakota residents voted on 32 citizen-initiated measures between 2000 and 2020. Voters approved 12 (37.5%) and defeated 20 (62.5%). There is currently one other measure certified for the November ballot, referred to as Constitutional Amendment D. This proposed amendment would 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 marijuana-related measures either in process or certified for the ballot. 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.

Currently, 18 states and Washington, D.C., have legalized marijuana for recreational purposes—12 through citizen initiatives, one through a legislatively referred constitutional amendment, and six through legislative action. Additionally, 13 states have decriminalized recreational marijuana usage, which typically means violations result in a fine rather than arrest or jail time for first-time offenders.

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Iowa’s June 7 primaries 

May was a busy month for elections, and June is about to be even busier. Over the next four weeks, 17 states will hold primaries. Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, and South Dakota are holding June 7 primaries, and we’ll bring you more information about elections in those states in the coming days. 

Let’s jump right in, starting with the Hawkeye State. 

On June 7, Iowans will decide Republican and Democratic primaries for one U.S. Senate seat and four U.S. House districts. Incumbent Sen. Chuck Grassley (R) is seeking an 8th term. He’s running against Jim Carlin in the Republican primary. Three Democrats—Abby Finkenauer, Michael Franken, and Glenn Hurst—are running for the Democratic nomination. 

Republicans have a 3-1 majority in Iowa’s U.S. House delegation. Ten candidates are running for the House across Iowa’s four districts—the fewest since 2012, when 11 candidates filed. All four incumbents are running for re-election, and no incumbent faces a primary challenger.

Iowans will also vote in Republican and Democratic primaries for governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, several other state executive offices, 25 state Senate seats, and all 100 state House seats.

In the state Senate, Republicans have a 32-18 majority. In the state House, they have a 60-40 majority. Forty-six state legislative districts up for election this year are open, meaning no incumbents filed to run. That’s 33% of the 134 districts up for election in 2022 and 31% of all 150 districts in the Iowa General Assembly. Since no incumbents are present, open districts are guaranteed to be won by newcomers to the assembly. This is the largest guaranteed influx of newcomers to the Iowa General Assembly since 2014.

In Iowa, the primary candidate with the most votes wins—even if that candidate receives less than 50% of the total vote. Iowa is one of 40 states without primary election runoffs. The state does not cancel uncontested primaries, and write-in candidates do not have to file. 

Click below to learn more about Iowa’s upcoming elections. 

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Mississippi’s June 7 primaries

Compared to most other states this year, Mississippi’s June 7 primaries are a bit sparse. That’s because many of the state’s elections are happening in 2023, including gubernatorial and state legislative elections. This year, Mississippians will vote on four U.S. House districts. 

Republicans have a 3-1 majority in the U.S. House delegation. This year, 24 candidates—an average of six for each of the state’s four U.S. House districts—filed to run, including 16 Republicans, seven Democrats, and one Libertarian. The six candidates per district average is more than it was in both 2020—3.5 candidates per district—and 2018 (4.75). All four incumbents are running for re-election. Mississippi has had one open-seat U.S. House race since 2012. All four districts will be contested in the general election, as every district has both Democratic and Republican candidates.

Mississippi is one of 10 states that holds primary runoff elections, meaning candidates must win a majority of the vote on June 7 to advance to the general election. If no candidates win a majority of the vote, the top two vote-getters advance to a June 28 runoff. 

To learn more about Mississippi’s June 7 primary elections, click below. 

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