South Dakota Voters Will be Given a Third Opportunity to Approve an Adult-Use Cannabis Legalization Ballot Initiative this Coming November

South Dakota Voters Will be Given a Third Opportunity to Approve an Adult-Use Cannabis Legalization Ballot Initiative this Coming November

Louisiana Senate Opts for Restrictions of Intoxicating Hemp Derivatives Over an Outright Ban Reading South Dakota Voters Will be Given a Third Opportunity to Approve an Adult-Use Cannabis Legalization Ballot Initiative this Coming November 6 minutes Next North Carolina Native American Tribe to Begin Recreational Cannabis Sales in 30 to 45 Days

Having failed to get two previous ballot measures passed in 2020 and 2022, organizers hope the third time around will be the charm.



In the passionate and, at times, frustrating world of cannabis legalization reform, success is often achieved through passion and persistence. Throughout the short but eventful history of marijuana legalization efforts at the state level, proponents and supporters must persevere through countless failed attempts before finally attaining the sweet toke of victory.


Such is the case for South Dakota. According to multiple media outlets, South Dakota Secretary of State Monae Johnson's (R) office officially validated a measure that will appear on the November general election ballot on Monday.


The campaign, South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws (SDBML), submitted 22,558 valid signatures for a petition to include the legalization initiative on this year's ballot, which is roughly 5,000 more than required for inclusion.


Despite the lack of significant financial support from national industry and philanthropic institutions, the South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws (SDBML) campaign, driven by local grassroots support, has persevered, culminating in the state's verification of its success.


In a June 3 press release, "Secretary of State Monae L. Johnson announces that a petition submitted for an initiated measure was validated and filed by her office today. This ballot question would legalize the recreational use, possession, and distribution of marijuana. The title for the ballot question will be Initiated Measure 29."


"Secretary of State Monae L. Johnson announces that a petition submitted for an initiated measure was validated and filed by her office today. This ballot question would legalize the recreational use, possession, and distribution of marijuana. The title for the ballot question will be Initiated Measure 29."

- Press Release from SD Secretary of State Monae Johnson's Office


This latest attempt represents the third such effort undertaken in South Dakota in the past four years. According to an Associated Press report, in 2020, voters approved a measure, Amendment A, to legalize adult-use cannabis. However, the referendum was later challenged via litigation and ultimately struck down in court. Two years later, in 2022, the campaign's second ballot measure was narrowly rejected by voters by 52%.


A notoriously conservative state, South Dakota's primary opponents and relentless gatekeepers to passing legalization reform are its lawmakers, chief among them Governor Kristi Noem, who recently made negative headlines following her callous recounting of murdering the family dog.


After state leaders successfully killed an amendment last November that would've legalized adult-use cannabis via legislation, Noem flippantly and sanctimoniously said, "South Dakota is a place where the rule of law and our Constitution matter, and that's what today's decision is about. We do things right—and how we do things—matters just as much as what we are doing."


"South Dakota is a place where the rule of law and our Constitution matter, and that's what today's decision is about. We do things right—and how we do things—matters just as much as what we are doing."

- South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem (R)


Despite the pushback from Noem and her acolytes, proponents for the reform are optimistic that voters will finally push the measure across the finish line this third time around. If approved, the bill would:


  • Legalize adult-use cannabis for individuals over 21
  • Enable those individuals to buy and possess up to 2 ounces of cannabis or 16 grams of concentrate
  • Allow cultivation of up to 6 plants per person with a twelve-plant maximum for a single household

Likewise, if the ballot initiative passes, campaign organizers plan to work with the State Legislature to implement business licensing, taxation, and other rules and guidelines for regulating the new industry.


Following the Secretary of State's announcement, Zebadiah Johnson, political director for the campaign, said, "We firmly believe that South Dakotans deserve to make their own choices on how they live their lives, including the freedom to responsibly use cannabis."


"We firmly believe that South Dakotans deserve to make their own choices on how they live their lives, including the freedom to responsibly use cannabis."

- Zebadiah Johnson, Political Director for South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws


However, the measure is expected to face intense opposition not only from state politicians but also from other anti-cannabis groups like Protecting South Dakota Kids, whose chairman, Jim Kinyon, recently reiterated that the state's voters already had their say on the issue in 2022 and rejected that year's attempt at legalization.


"How many times does the state of South Dakota need to reject recreational marijuana before the industry will accept the decision of the state's citizens? I expect that the industry will triple down on their money to try and sway and dissuade voters," Kinyon said.


"How many times does the state of South Dakota need to reject recreational marijuana before the industry will accept the decision of the state's citizens? I expect that the industry will triple down on their money to try and sway and dissuade voters."

- Jim Kinyon, Chairman of Protecting South Dakota Kids


The decision on whether South Dakotans will be able to enjoy legal and regulated adult-use cannabis will ultimately reside in the hands of those fickle and somewhat divided voters this November. With other states, like Florida, also entertaining a third attempt at legalizing recreational marijuana at the ballot box, this year's election could see a majority of states with legal adult-use cannabis markets for the first time in American history. 


The right to vote has never been more critical for the growth of what is fast becoming America's most lucrative and popular industry since the late 1990s and early 2000s tech boom. Both sides of the polarizing issue will put the democratic process to the test, and the outcome could end up changing the face of America even more than the choice for the next President. Get out and VOTE!!