Both medicinal and recreational marijuana on the South Dakota ballot
SOUTH DAKOTA, U.S.A. — Early voting has started, and Election Day is around the corner.
This year marijuana is on the ballot twice.
On the ballot this year are Initiated Measure 26 and Amendment A.
Measure 26, if passed, will legalized medicinal marijuana to qualifying patients. Patients include both adults and minors.
Melissa Mentele, the sponsor, says she believes it will help those dealing with severe illnesses.
“For our patients that deal with severe chronic pain, our cancer patients who are dealing with cachexia and wasting syndrome,” Mentele said. “For our hospice patients that are just trying to find some dignity in their last days and especially for our youth and children that suffer from catastrophic seizure disorders.”
If passed, the measure will legalize marijuana testing, manufacturing, and cultivation facilities.
According to the measure, to legally possess, purchase, and grow marijuana, qualifying patients must have a registration card. The card will be given to them by the State Department of Health.
Amendment A will be similar to Initiated Measure 26. Amendment A will also legalize the substance, but it will regulate and tax marijuana. If the amendment passes, the possession, use, transport, and distribution of marijuana will become legal under certain conditions. This leaves room for recreational use.
This has cause mixed feelings among several groups, due to how permanent amendments are. Unlike statutes, amendments cannot be easily tweaked, and they have to undergo a much lengthier process to be changed.
Nathan Sanderson, the executive director of the South Dakota Retailers Association, explains his opposition:
“There are lots and lots of opportunities for unintended consequences, and so our members think that amending the constitution and putting marijuana in there, when alcohol isn’t in the constitution, tobacco isn’t in the constitution, isn’t the right way to go for South Dakota,” Sanderson said.
While others think legalizing cannabis can work as a solution.
“We’ll have the ability to keep our people out of prisons and stop basically charging low-level cannabis charges and start really dealing with the things that are important in the state of South Dakota, such as our opioid and methamphetamine addictions,” Mentele said.
If Amendment A is passed, the department of revenue will be able to give out licenses to manufacturing and distributing organization, but local governments will have authority to ban licensing within their jurisdictions.
The amendment also states that marijuana will be taxed 15% and the revenue will go towards funding public schools and the state’s general fund.