The South Dakota Secretary of State’s Office has validated the ballot initiative to legalize cannabis in the state, ensuring that citizens will vote on the reforms during November’s Presidential Election, the Argus Leader reports. The approval comes less than a month after officials approved a separate petition to legalize medical cannabis in the state.
If approved, the constitutional amendment would require the Legislature to pass laws legalizing and regulating hemp, and both recreational and medical cannabis.
South Dakota will be the first state to vote on both medical and adult-use measures during a single election. According to the report, lawmakers are already working on a bill to legalize and regulate hemp along with another bill that would put hemp legalization to voters during the election if the bill failed to pass.
Republican Gov. Kristi Noem opposes all forms of cannabis legalization – including hemp – and wrote in an Argus Leader op-ed last year that legalizing hemp legalizes cannabis “by default.” In the op-ed, Noem said that legalizing hemp “weakens drug laws” and “hurts law enforcement.”
In 2018, a ballot initiative to legalize cannabis in South Dakota failed to submit enough valid signatures to appear on ballots that year; in 2016, a notary error forced an adult-use question off of the ballot.
It’s unclear what ramifications would be if both the medical and recreational initiatives pass in November; however, it’s likely that the constitutional amendment – the recreational measure – would supersede the non-amendment medical cannabis initiative.
Citizens have until January 20 to challenge the medical cannabis measure and until February 5 to challenge the ballot measure.
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