The state of South Dakota is set to feature both a medical and recreational cannabis initiative on the ballot in November.
So far, it is the first state in the country to do this for the 2020 November election season. Previously, the state of Ohio also featured a medical and recreational initiative on the ballot back in 2015. The 2020 measures are also considered likely to pass this year, although it’s difficult to determine exactly how South Dakota residents feel about cannabis, since no official poll has been taken for the area to predict how people might vote. “We’re very optimistic, and I think we have a strong reason to be optimistic,” said Drey Samuelson, political director for South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws. “Attitudes (toward marijuana legalization) have changed substantially nationally in the last two or three years. I don’t think we’re going to win by a zillion points, but I think we’ll win.”
The medical cannabis initiative, South Dakota Initiated Measure 26, would create regulations for medical cannabis, and allow patients suffering from specific medical conditions to use it for treatment. It would also allow patients to possess up to three ounces of cannabis, and also grow at least three plants at home.
The recreational cannabis initiative, Constitutional Amendment A, would allow any adult 21 years of age or older to possess one ounce of cannabis. Similarly to the medical cannabis initiative, up to three plants would be allowed to be cultivated at home; however, this rule only applies for those who do not live closely to a dispensary or retail outlet. Also included in this is legal hemp sales, and its own approach to legalizing medical cannabis (not in relation to the Initiated Measure 26).
Based on the fact that most Americans support legal cannabis across the board, Samuelson and other activists are certain that there will be some opposition. Governor Kristi Noem has expressed opposition against cannabis in the past, and South Dakota residents are known to have a highly conservative population overall.
Predictions show that cities like Sioux Falls and Rapid City will likely show the most support for the legal cannabis bills, as well as areas with high college populations. Samuelson even claims that cannabis supporters “believe a fair amount of rural people will vote for them too.”