South Dakota Group Submits Signatures to Place Adult-Use Cannabis Legalization Measure on November Ballot

The Secretary of State will now go through the certification process for the petitions, which South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws turned in May 3.

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South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws (SDBML) submitted signatures to the Secretary of State May 3 to place an adult-use cannabis legalization measure on the state’s November ballot after the last voter-approved legalization initiative was struck down by the South Dakota Supreme Court.

The Secretary of State will now go through the certification process for the petitions, but through an in-house screening process, campaign officials are confident their measure will reach the ballot this year, according to an Argus Leader report.

"We are very proud of the signature drive we ran and we’re confident we’re going to qualify," SDBML Director Matt Scweich told the news outlet. "With that being said, we have to respect the process and let the Secretary of State do its job."

SDBML had to gather roughly 17,000 valid signatures to get its measure before voters, the Argus Leader reported.

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The group’s proposal would legalize the personal use, possession and cultivation of cannabis for adults 21 and older through an initiated measure, according to the news outlet.

SDBML put forth a similar proposal in 2020 through a constitutional amendment, which voters approved alongside a separate measure to legalize medical cannabis.

The adult-use measure was then challenged in court, where a judge struck it down, ruling that it violated the single-subject rule in the South Dakota Constitution.

The case then headed to the state’s Supreme Court, which ruled in November 2021—a year after voters passed the adult-use measure—that it would not reinstate the voter-approved initiative.

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South Dakota lawmakers then attempted to legalize adult-use cannabis legislatively during this year’s legislative session, but the bill ultimately failed, leaving SDBML’s campaign as South Dakota’s only option for adult-use legalization this year.

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Schweich declined to tell the Argus Leader how many total signatures his group submitted to the Secretary of State this week, but said SDBML’s internal screening process revealed that 19,250 of the collected signatures are valid.

"This will withstand any potential lawsuits so we can avoid what happened after 2020," Schweich told the news outlet. "We don't want to give politicians any kind of opening to thwart the will of the people."

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