Recreational Marijuana could be on the ballot soon
RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - In 2020 the citizens of South Dakota voted to legalize recreational marijuana but the move was struck down by the state Supreme Court.
In 2022, against larger and more organized opposition, voters seemingly changed their minds and a more concise measure to legalize recreational marijuana failed.
In 2024, that decision may be on the ballot once more.
A draft-initiated measure to legalize recreational marijuana was introduced last week and if enough signatures are collected it will be added to the 2024 election as a ballot initiative. Those in favor of the change argue this takes an existing black market and turns it into a safer, more regulated market.
“This legislation allows for adult use cannabis to pass and to absorb those black market users into a regulated market. That means safe testing, safe products, proper packaging, and labeling with child-resistant packaging,” said Kittrick Jefferies, the owner of Puffy’s Dispensary.
There are only about 10,000 medical cannabis users registered in the state leaving those unregistered to resort to the black market. Jefferies says this proposed initiative is a way to incorporate those users.
“There are over 90,000 cannabis users in the state of South Dakota. The difference between those in the medical cannabis program and those users, the Department of Health stated, are essentially our black market users. This is a great opportunity for South Dakotans to capture that black market and bring them into the regulation that medical cannabis program users see,” said Jefferies.
Liz Tiger, an advocate for cannabis in the state as well as a medical cannabis patient, explains the costs associated with getting a medical card can be a barrier for those who may need the product.
“We’re in a state where we have higher poverty rates and so that financial barrier to access the medical program stops many people from accessing these safe materials and it keeps people in the black market which is where we have untested material... potentially contaminated material you really just don’t know what you’re getting there,” said Tiger.
In order for this initiative to be added to the 2024 ballot, about 17,000 petition signatures will need to be collected.
Copyright 2023 KEVN. All rights reserved.