Home Legislative South Dakota Activists Aim for Cannabis Legalization in 2020

South Dakota Activists Aim for Cannabis Legalization in 2020


In recent years, attempts to get both medicinal and recreational marijuana legalization on the ballot in South Dakota have fallen short. However, there are currently two different legalization initiatives that are preparing to begin the process of signature gathering. Part of that process requires the state Attorney General to provide an explanation of the potential ballot measure. Recently, a description was released for a proposal that aims to legalize recreational cannabis – while also requiring the state implement medical marijuana laws and regulations for hemp production.

“The constitutional amendment legalizes the possession, use, transport, and distribution of marijuana and marijuana paraphernalia by people age 21 and older. Individuals may possess or distribute one ounce or less of marijuana,” Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg (R) wrote. “Marijuana plants and marijuana produced from those plants may also be possessed under certain conditions.”

Along with legalizing the growth, production, sale and possession of cannabis and cannabis products, the amendment would also introduce a 15 percent excise tax on marijuana sales. This revenue would be used to fund the implementation and regulation of legal cannabis sales, while the rest would go toward public education and the state’s general fund. 

“The Department must enact rules to implement and enforce this amendment,” the explanation states. “The amendment requires the Legislature to pass laws regarding medical use of marijuana. The amendment does not legalize hemp; it requires the Legislature to pass laws regulating the cultivation, processing, and sale of hemp.”

The second initiative, run by an organization called New Approach South Dakota, has announced that they have been certified to gather signatures. Each group is required to get 33,921 signatures if they want to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot – which the group behind the “full package” amendment that would completely legalize cannabis plans to do. But, it seems New Approach is planning to collect 16,961 signatures to put their proposal on the ballot as an initiated measure. 

“New Approach will continue with our science- and fact-based educational approach to compassionate access,” Mentele said in an email response to KELOLAND questions.

These are not the only ballot measures that are working on getting certified to collect signatures – but these two likely have the funding and support needed to gather the required number of signatures. Both of these groups appear to have solid plans in place with the intention of gathering signatures steadily up until the day they need to be turned in this November. By the end of the year, we will know whether voters in South Dakota will get to decide on cannabis legalization in 2020.