South Dakotans will have the opportunity to vote on adult-use marijuana legalization when they go to the polls in November.
Marijuana reform groups in the state submitted separate petitions in November, one covering medical cannabis legalization and the other focusing on adult-use cannabis.
Last month, Secretary of State Steve Barnett confirmed that his office has verified the validity of the petition, calling for a vote on whether medical marijuana should be permitted. Now he has revealed that the petition calling for a vote on recreational cannabis has also been verified.
It means that South Dakota will become the first state to hold a concurrent vote on both medical and recreational marijuana legalization.
A petition needs 33,921 signatures for a constitutional ballot initiative in South Dakota and 16,961 for a statutory initiative. The medical marijuana petition qualifies for a statutory initiative, while the adult-use petition qualifies for the constitutional initiative.
The campaign group behind it, South Dakotans for Better Marijuana, gathered more than 50,000 signatures.
Barnett said his office conducted a random sample of them and found 68.74% to be valid. “Based on the results of the random sample, 36,707 signatures were deemed valid,” he said.
That is enough to get it on the ballot. The measure would legalize, regulate, and tax marijuana and require the Legislature to pass laws regarding hemp, including laws to ensure access to marijuana for medical use.
It will be called Constitutional Amendment A and it will be placed on the general election ballot taking place on Nov. 3.
It is not yet known who will secure the Democratic nomination to run against incumbent President Trump in the election. Many prominent candidates have endorsed liberalization of marijuana laws, and frontrunner Joe Biden has backed down on his previous anti-cannabis stance.
It appears unlikely that Congress will pass legislation to permit cannabis use at a federal level this year, so campaigners want to see as many ballot initiatives as possible take place in November. They believe this will ensure success at a federal level in 2021.
New Jersey lawmakers have also decided to place a recreational marijuana legalization question on the ballot in November. Eleven states and the District of Columbia have already legalized it.