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Members Of Congress Should Visit Marijuana Businesses Together To Reduce Partisanship, House Committee Witness Testifies July 2, 2021
Members Of Congress Should Visit Marijuana Businesses Together To Reduce Partisanship, House Committee Witness Testifies

If the South Dakota Supreme Court declines to overturn a February ruling that nullified a voter-approved marijuana legalization initiative, activists are going to go all-in on the ballot initiative process again to ensure that the reform is enacted in 2022.

Late last week, they filed four separate legalization measures with the state Legislative Research Council—the first step toward putting the issue before voters next year. South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws says the sponsors will drop the proposals  if Amendment A, which was approved by voters last November, is fully restored by the state’s high court. But for now, they’re getting the process rolling in case the judiciary doesn’t uphold the will of the electorate.

The four initiatives share some basic provisions, but they each take a unique approach to the policy change. There’s also a fifth measure that the group is backing which would eliminate a single-subject rule for the ballot process—a policy that led to a state judge deeming the 2020 recreational measure unconstitutional.

“I’m proud to be a sponsor of these initiatives because they represent the will of the voters,” Melissa Mentele, who spearheaded a separate medical cannabis legalization initiative that was overwhelmingly approved by voters last year, said in a press release. “South Dakotans support cannabis legalization. If Amendment A is repealed, then we need to be prepared to put legalization on the ballot again.”

Tim Johnson, a former U.S. attorney, is also a sponsor of the new measures.

Activists recognize that the state’s ballot laws means that they are up against the clock to get any of the measures approved for circulation and to collect enough to qualify. They will only pursue putting one of the cannabis-related initiatives on the ballot if Amendment A remains overturned.

After going through the Legislative Research Council, the initiatives must then be accepted by the state attorney general and secretary of state. At that point, advocates will have until November 8 to collect at least 33,921 valid signatures for a constitutional proposal and 16,961 for a statutory measure.

South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws is supporting two measures of each kind. Here’s what each of the four legalization proposals would do:

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