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Recreational marijuana supporters prepare ballot initiatives for 2022

Published: Jul. 2, 2021 at 5:57 PM CDT
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PIERRE, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - One day after medicinal marijuana became legal in South Dakota advocates are now shifting their attention back to recreational.

South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws announced Friday that five ballot initiatives have been filed with the South Dakota Legislative Research Council for review.

The group says this is the first step towards qualifying initiatives for the 2022 ballot.

“We want to keep our options open, because it may be the case in a week or two from now the South Dakota Supreme Court issues its ruling, and they provide a clear legal basis for why they made that ruling,” said Matthew Schweich, Marijuana Policy Project Deputy Director. “That could inform the type of initiative that we need to move forward with.”

Four of the initiatives are cannabis legalization initiatives that take different approaches to the policy -- only one of them would ultimately advance to the ballot. The fifth initiative would repeal South Dakota’s ballot initiative single subject rule.

“While the single subject rule is a good idea in theory, it can be abused in practice. Depending on the ruling in the Amendment A case, it may be necessary to consider repealing the single subject rule if it presents a long-term impediment to future ballot initiatives in South Dakota,” said Schweich. “We don’t think that politicians should be using lawsuits to repeal the will of the people.”

Critics are less keen to the idea of repealing the single subject rule.

“(The single subject rule) worked for all other ballot measures, they just threw too much in one subject,” said State Rep. Jon Hansen (R-Dell Rapids). “It was too much in one ballot, period.”

Ballot initiatives for the 2022 general election will be due exactly one year prior to the 2022 election, November 8th, 2021.

If Amendment A is fully restored by the South Dakota Supreme Court, then the three sponsors will not advance the initiatives.

The state’s high court is still considering the Amendment A case with marijuana legalization pending that decision.

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