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2020 looks to be a breakout year for the country after South Dakota put marijuana legalization on the 2020 ballot. Marijuana Moment reports that on Monday, January 6, the secretary of state’s office announced a proposed measure to legalize marijuana in the state. Currently, medical and recreational cannabis is illegal in South Dakota.

Marijuana Legalization Measure

Back in June 2019, former federal prosecutor Brendan Johnson filed an initiative to legalize, regulate, and tax marijuana in South Dakota. The state’s attorney general filed an official explanation of the proposed measure in August. The explanation gave marijuana advocates the approval to start collecting signatures.

Johnson’s proposed ballot measure would allow adults over the age of 21 to possess and distribute up to one ounce of cannabis. South Dakota residents would also be able to grow up to three marijuana plants for personal use. The South Dakota Department of Revenue would be in charge of handing out retailer, testing, and manufacturing licenses.

Under the proposal, marijuana sales would be taxed at 15 percent. The tax revenue would go back into the program to facilitate implementation. Additional funds would go toward public education and the state’s general fund. Approval of the measure would also require the state to pass medical marijuana and hemp laws by April 1, 2022.

A Separate Medical Marijuana Measure

Support for marijuana legalization in South Dakota is growing with every passing year. In 2020, voters will also have the chance to vote on another ballot measure related to marijuana. In December 2019, a separate measure to legalize medical marijuana officially qualified for the 2020 ballot after turning in over 30,000 petition signatures.

If voters approve the medical marijuana ballot measure, the requirement to pass medical marijuana laws under the adult-use proposal wouldn’t be necessary. Under this bill, qualifying medical patients would be able to possess and purchase up to three ounces of medical cannabis from a licensed retailer. Patients could also grow at least three plants or more if approved by a physician.

Both proposals are backed by some of the country’s leading marijuana advocacy groups: ,Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) and New Approach PAC. Matthew Schweich, deputy director of the MPP told Marijuana Moment, “South Dakota will become the first state in American history to vote on both medical marijuana and adult-use legalization initiatives on the same ballot.”

Fighting an Uphill Battle

South Dakota has some of the most restrictive marijuana prohibition laws in the country. It’s the only state in the country to ban the ingestion of a controlled substance. That means that testing positive for marijuana consumption could land a resident with a misdemeanor conviction. Not surprisingly, the state’s GOP and governor are fighting tooth and nail to prevent legalization.

Gov. Kristi Noem vetoed a hemp legalization bill in March 2019 and continues to stand against hemp being grown in the state despite the interim rules released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. South Dakota Republicans ramped up their social media efforts dissuading voters from signing the petitions, which was perceived as voter suppression.

Marijuana Legalization by State

In lieu of federal marijuana legalization, multiple states are taking legalization efforts into their own hands. Residents in up to 10 states might be voting for medical or recreational marijuana bills next November. The following are a few of the possible marijuana reform efforts from states:

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  • New Jersey’s legislature approved a ballot measure for marijuana legalization.
  • Nebraska lawmakers are collecting signatures for a medical marijuana constitutional amendment.
  • Rhode Island lawmakers are considering putting a marijuana legalization bill on the 2020 ballot.
  • Oklahoma withdrew a ballot measure proposal for recreational marijuana and are planning on redrafting the proposal soon.
  • In North Dakota, a number of proposed legalization measures are trying to collect the needed signatures for ballot access.
  • New York lawmakers are debating whether they should pursue marijuana legalization through the legislature or at the ballot box in 2020. Marijuana legalization is a top priority for New York.
  • Montana has a few legalization proposals floating around, vying for the required signatures.
  • Arizona is seeking signatures on a proposal to vote on marijuana legalization in 2020 with a provision that would allow for the expungement of marijuana arrests and other social equity provisions.
  • Arkansas is gathering signatures to end cannabis prohibition and expunge marijuana records.
  • Mississippi is close to getting a medical cannabis measure approved for the 2020 ballot allowing patients with any of 22 conditions to possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis per 14-day period.

South Dakota Cannabis College Online

South Dakota is one of the last states holding out against marijuana legalization. Currently, marijuana is legal for adult use in 11 states and legal for medical use in 33 states. The ballot proposal measure is the first historic step for South Dakota. Future ballot measure are sure to include marijuana legalization as a top priority.

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