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Marijuana advocates get OK to begin collecting signatures for 2022 election
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Marijuana advocates get OK to begin collecting signatures for 2022 election

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Marijuana Plant

A proposed 2022 cannabis legalization ballot initiative has been approved by the South Dakota Secretary of State for signature gathering, according to a news release from South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws.

The statutory cannabis legalization initiative would make personal cannabis possession and cultivation legal for adults 21 and over, according to Matthew Schweich, SDBML campaign director.

To make it on the 2022 ballot, SDBML will need to collect just under 17,000 valid signatures from South Dakota registered voters by Nov. 8.

"At the 2020 Election, 54% of South Dakota voters approved Amendment A, a constitutional cannabis legalization initiative," the release states. "However, since then, South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem has orchestrated a taxpayer-funded lawsuit that has suspended implementation of the law. The case is currently before the South Dakota Supreme Court. The hearing was on April 28 but a ruling has still not been issued.

In 2020, 70% of South Dakota voters also approved Measure 26, a medical cannabis law, making South Dakota the first state to approve recreational and medical cannabis reform at the same time.

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The proposed short, statutory ballot initiative was one of five filed with the state. Out of those five, Schweich said the short statutory legalization initiative was chosen to move forward because it is the most likely to withstand any future legal challenges.

"Statutory is less likely to be scrutinized than a constitutional amendment. Courts are going to be a little harsher, stricter if you're trying to do a constitutional," Schweich said. The short version has less components to it as well, which helps negate potential challenges to it for predicating too many areas of public policy, he added.

Signature drives in Rapid City, Aberdeen, Sioux Falls and other locations in South Dakota are planned to help garner the required number of signatures before the Nov. 8 deadline.

The locations and dates of the signatures drives will be announced within the next few days.

“We have less than a month to collect the signatures we need, but our supporters are very energized," Schweich said. "They are deeply frustrated by Governor Noem’s decision to launch a taxpayer-funded lawsuit against Amendment A, the lack of a ruling in the case, and Governor Noem’s failed attempt to severely delay the implementation of Measure 26."

The initiative text and related documents can be found on the South Dakota Secretary of State's website at https://sdsos.gov/elections-voting/upcoming-elections/general-information/2022-ballot-questions.aspx.

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