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Advocates for legalizing marijuana in South Dakota submit thousands of petition signatures

After “Amendment A” was struck down last year, it appears that recreational marijuana is on its way to once more being on the general election ballot.
Advocates for legalizing recreational cannabis in South Dakota turned in roughly 25,000...
Advocates for legalizing recreational cannabis in South Dakota turned in roughly 25,000 signatures to the state's secretary of states office, with the hope of putting the question of whether or not recreational marijuana should be legalized on the November general election ballot.(Austin Goss DNN/KOTA)
Published: May. 4, 2022 at 6:46 AM MDT
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PIERRE, S.D. - Advocates for legalizing recreational marijuana in South Dakota have submitted thousands of petition signatures to the South Dakota Secretary of State’s office, enough to likely put them on the November general election ballot.

South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws (SDBML) turned in roughly 25,000 signatures, about 19,250 of which they say they personally verified.

That puts them well over the 16,691 verified signatures that they need to get the question of recreational cannabis on the ballot.

“We are confident we are going to qualify, but of course we have to let the process play out with the Secretary of State’s office,” said Matthew Schweich, Campaign Director for SDBML. “We look forward to being on the ballot in November regardless.”

Like every ballot measure, the Secretary of State’s office will now review the signatures to verify them. That includes making sure they come from registered South Dakota voters, are legible, and not duplicates, amongst other things.

SDBML has been working since last October to put together the signatures, but kicked the campaign into overdrive in the last several days.

“(My organization) quickly got involved, every way we could,” said Emmett Reistroffer, founder of Genesis Farms. “Providing office spaces, parking lots for petition drive throughs, and I personally went out and collected signatures. I think it is what we need to do to have a successful cannabis industry in South Dakota, we need to make sure our product is taxed and regulated and available to all adults who can benefit from it.”

It will be the second time in two years that South Dakota voters weigh in on whether or not to legalize recreational marijuana. Amendment A, which legalized recreational cannabis in November 2020, was struck down as unconstitutional by a state backed lawsuit.

Now, advocates for legal recreational cannabis say that they will now turn their focus to Amendment C on the June primary ballot, for fear that it could somehow be used against them down the road.

“The last thing we need is another rule weaponized by politicians and taken to courts that will result in deeply unjust rulings like we saw with Amendment A,” said Schweich. “That is my biggest concern with Amendment C, I think it is ripe for litigation and abuse.”

The general election will take place on November 8th.

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