South Dakota residents will vote on legalizing medical marijuana in 2020 after a petition calling for a ballot measure secured more than 25,000 valid signatures.
A petition needs to garner support from at least 16,961 signatories in order to be placed on the ballot as an initiated measure in a referendum. A group called New Approach South Dakota submitted the petition with more than 30,000 signatures on it last month.
South Dakota Secretary of State Steve Barnett has now confirmed that his office has verified the validity of the signatures. The team conducted a random sample of the signatures and found 74.65% to be valid, which would mean that 25,524 signatures were deemed valid.
The proposal is now officially designated as Initiated Measure 25. The vote will take place when South Dakotans go to the polls to have their say in the general election on Nov. 3, 2020.
Anyone in South Dakota now has 30 days in which to challenge the Secretary of State’s validation of that measure. Any challenge must be made by 5 p.m. on Jan. 20, 2020.
A separate petition calling for a ballot that would ask voters whether they want to legalize recreational marijuana gained more than 50,000 signatures. It was also submitted before last month’s deadline.
A petition must gather 33,921 signatures for a constitutional ballot initiative in South Dakota, as that amounts to 10% of the state’s population. The group that set up the recreational marijuana petition, South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws, gathered more than 50,000 signatures, but Barnett’s office still needs to make an announcement on the validity of them.
South Dakota is one of just 17 states without a legal medical marijuana program. New Approach South Dakota claims a strong majority of voters in the state favour legalization of medical cannabis, and said turning to the ballot initiative was its only recourse in the face of inaction from elected officials.
The medical cannabis proposal would allow patients with various qualifying conditions to buy up to three ounces of cannabis from licensed dispensaries. They would also be permitted to grow at least three marijuana plants.
The recreational cannabis initiative in South Dakota seeks to allow anyone aged 21 or above to purchase up to an once at a time, while there would also be a 15% tax with revenue going towards funding the agency that oversees licensing and public education schemes.