Marijuana and Voting

The Secretary of State’s Office has confirmed that supporters of a proposed statewide ballot initiative legalizing the possession, use, and cultivation of marijuana turned in the requisite number of signatures to qualify it for the November ballot. The initiative will appear on the ballot as Measure 29.

November’s vote will mark the third time since 2020 that South Dakotans have weighed in on the issue.

In 2020, a majority of voters decided in favor of a broader ballot measure legalizing marijuana possession and retail sales. Republican Gov. Kristi Noem then challenged the measure as unconstitutional. Justices on the state’s Supreme Court eventually ruled 4-1 to strike down the law, opining that it violated the state’s “single subject rule.” Voters rejected another legalization ballot measure in 2022.

Backers of this year’s effort, South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws, believe that they will benefit from greater voter turnout in a Presidential election year. “Heading into a Presidential election with far more voters participating we’re confident if we do our jobs well we can get that victory in November,” the group’s Executive Director Matthew Schweich told reporters last month. Schweich also currently serves as the Executive Director of the Marijuana Policy Project.

If approved by a majority of voters, the initiative will permit adults to engage in the personal possession and home cultivation of limited quantities of cannabis (two ounces of flower, 16 grams of cannabis concentrates, and/or up to six plants). It does not establish rules and regulations for commercial enterprises to either produce or sell cannabis.

Under state law, possessing up to two ounces of marijuana is a criminal misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a $2,000 fine.

Also this fall, Florida voters will decide on a constitutional amendment permitting existing medical cannabis facilities to engage in adult-use marijuana sales. Because that ballot proposal is in the form of a constitutional amendment, it requires approval from a super-majority of Florida voters (60 percent) to become law.

Additional information is available from South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws.

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