South Dakota Voters Reject Adult-Use Cannabis Second Time Around

Despite voting to approve a challenged adult-use cannabis bill two years earlier, for the second time, voters in South Dakota rejected a measure to legalize adult-use cannabis.
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Initiated Measure 27 would have legalized “the possession, use, and distribution of marijuana” for adults ages 21 and over in South Dakota. Polling showed the bill’s chances of approval, which were slim to begin with.

In 2020, the South Dakota voters approved Initiated Measure 26 and approved medical cannabis with 69% of voters in favor of the measure. A majority of voters in South Dakota also approved a ballot measure to legalize adult-use cannabis. Constitutional Amendment A was approved with 54% of the vote, according to election records. However, a lawsuit filed last year by Gov. Krisi Noem and two highway patrol officers prevented the bill approved by voters from ever seeing the light of day. The South Dakota Supreme Court ruled on Nov 24, 2021, that the measure couldn’t be implemented because it violated a requirement that constitutional amendments deal with just one subject.

The group behind a 2020 medical marijuana proposal in South Dakota is accusing several officials of engaging in illegal campaigning against pro-cannabis measures in the state.

Earlier in the month, New Approach South Dakota said that it has filed information requests in an effort to find out whether state officials violated the state’s election laws by voicing opposition to the pot-related proposals. 

“Your tax dollars should not be used to promote any politician’s personal political agenda,” the group said in a Facebook post. “The state, an agency of the state, and the governing body of any county, municipality, or other political subdivision of the state may not expend or permit the expenditure of public funds for the purpose of influencing the nomination or election of any candidate, or for the petitioning of a ballot question on the ballot or the adoption or defeat of any ballot question. This section may not be construed to limit the freedom of speech of any officer or employee of the state or any political subdivision who is speaking in the officer’s or employee’s personal capacity. This section does not prohibit the state, its agencies, or the governing body of any political subdivision of the state from presenting factual information solely for the purpose of educating the voters on a ballot question.”

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