Supporters of marijuana legalization in South Dakota turned in petitions

RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - Medical marijuana, it's something 33 states have already legalized, and South Dakota voters could be seeing it on their 2020 ballot.

Petition to get marijuana on the South Dakota 2020 ballot

"There's enough momentum behind it, I think that there's enough people that are realizing that cannabis is not the evil weed, that it actually helps people in many different situations," said Leonard Vandermate, owner of the Hemporium Boutique.

Petitioners collected four times the amount of required signatures for marijuana to appear on the state ballot.

Now voters will wait for the South Dakota Secretary of State to validate those collected signatures.

"We have countless volunteers collecting signatures all across the state and in the end over 80,000 South Dakotans have signed these petitions, and what these petitions represent is a demand that the people make the decision on this issue," said Matthew Schweich, deputy director of the Marijuana Policy Project.

One initiative would legalize medical marijuana in South Dakota, the other would legalize marijuana for those 21 and older and allow the cultivation of industrial hemp in the state.

"There are people right now in South Dakota who are forced to choose between being a criminal and abstaining from a medical treatment that works for them, that allows them to live healthier and more productive lives, we don't think people should be forced to make that decision," Schweich said.

According to current South Dakota state law, possession of marijuana carries a potential felony charge, jail time and thousands of dollars in fines.

"If we made that legal here, we would take that fear out of being healed, you want to be healed, you don't have to get arrested for it, and that's the way it should be," Vandermate said.

The Secretary of State's office has begun validating the petition signatures, and voters can expect this process to take a couple months.