Opponents file lawsuit to overturn South Dakotans’ decision to legalize marijuana for adults
Last update: December 10, 2020
For decades, South Dakota has maintained some of the harshest marijuana laws in the country, causing thousands of people to be arrested in the state each year. But that changed in November after hundreds of thousands of South Dakotans turned out to vote in favor of Amendment A and Measure 26 in the 2020 Election. In the end, 54% of the electorate supported Constitutional Amendment A to legalize, regulate, and tax marijuana for adults 21 and older. Measure 26, which establishes a medical marijuana program, was approved by a whopping 70% of the vote. Both measures are set to become effective on July 1, 2021.
Gov. Kristi Noem has voiced public support for the effort to overturn Amendment A, and in her recent budget address to the South Dakota Legislature, she called voters’ decision to approve marijuana policy reform “disappointing.” While acknowledging the pending lawsuit, her budget nonetheless outlines a fiscal plan to implement both measures.
South Dakota makes history with voter approval of Amendment A and Measure 26
On Election Day, South Dakota became the first state to adopt medical marijuana and legalize marijuana for adults in the same election. With 54% of voters approving and 46% opposed, Constitutional Amendment A came out ahead by 35,000 votes and put the state on a path to regulating and taxing marijuana for people 21 and older. Measure 26, which will establish a medical marijuana program in the state, won with a 70% to 30% margin. Both measures will become effective on July 1, 2021.
The Marijuana Policy Project played a key role in leading the successful effort, which was spearheaded by two campaign committees, South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws and New Approach South Dakota. This victory — along with other marijuana policy reform wins around the country this year — could have implications for reform at the federal level.
“A few years ago, nobody would have predicted that South Dakota would legalize marijuana before New York,” MPP deputy director Matthew Schweich said. “But that’s the power of the ballot initiative process.”
South Dakota Secretary of State Steve Barnett (white shirt), MPP Deputy Director Matthew Schweich (blue blazer), and South Dakota campaign staff and volunteers stand alongside over 53,000 signatures being submitted to qualify the constitutional adult-use marijuana legalization ballot initiative.