Statewide cannabis legalization ballot measure fails by just 20,000 votes
After a lawsuit overturned a voter-approved ballot initiative in South Dakota to legalize cannabis in 2020, MPP led the charge to put the issue back on the ballot in November 2022. Unfortunately, the statutory initiative that would have legalized cannabis for adults known as Measure 27, was defeated 52.9% to 47.1% in the 2022 midterm election where voter turnout was significantly lower than 2020.
In the lead up to Election Day, opponents of Measure 27 raised half a million dollars to amplify fear-based messages against legalization on television and radio. The Yes on 27 side ran a strong grassroots campaign with widespread support across the state, but the opposition’s misinformation tactics ultimately proved to be effective.
The medical cannabis market in South Dakota continues to ramp up after 70% of voters approved a separate ballot initiative, known as Measure 26, in 2020. In 2023, advocates are aiming to continue expanding the program to ensure qualified patients have safe, affordable access and defend key provisions of the law.
Yes on 27: Voters will have their say on adult-use legalization (again) this November
Thanks to the efforts of MPP, South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws, and a broad network of grassroots supporters, South Dakota will have an opportunity to restore the will of the voters on cannabis legalization through an initiative in the upcoming November election. After Gov. Kristi Noem’s taxpayer-funded lawsuit undid voters’ approval of Amendment A, which passed with 54% support in 2020, leaders of SDBML launched a campaign for a new 2022 statutory initiative to legalize cannabis in the state. In May of this year, supporters submitted well over the number of signatures required, and the initiative has been certified to appear on the ballot this fall.
If approved by voters this November, Measure 27 would legalize up to an ounce of cannabis for adults 21 and older and allow home cultivation for up to three plants. Further legislation will be needed in 2023 to build upon the existing medical cannabis program and establish a regulatory system for adult-use cannabis businesses.
Earlier this year, allies of SDBML succeeded in defeating Amendment C, an initiative that would have created further hurdles and more onerous requirements for citizen-initiated ballot measures.
Voters are fired up and ready to reinstate the will of the people this November. If you live in South Dakota or know someone who does, please get involved, follow the campaign, and support the 2022 effort by visiting the campaign’s website at www.southdakotamarijuana.org.
Timeline of cannabis policy reform in South Dakota
2019 - South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws submitted enough signatures to qualify Amendment A (adult-use legalization) and Measure 26 (medical cannabis) for the 2020 ballot.
2020 - South Dakota makes history by becoming the first state to pass adult-use and medical cannabis legalization measures in the same election.
2021 - Advocates defend Measure 26 from harmful legislative changes; Gov. Kristi Noem’s taxpayer lawsuit over turns Amendment A.
2022 - Leaders launch another ballot campaign for adult-use legalization and put Measure 27 on November ballot
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.
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MPP has played a leading role in enacting 10 of the 18 state legalization laws, along with numerous decriminalization and medical cannabis laws. In 2021, a record number of states legalized legislatively, and we laid groundwork for future victories in other states. This year, the movement achieved victories in ...