Medical and recreational marijuana measures pass in South Dakota

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — President Donald Trump, U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds and U.S. Rep. Dusty Johnson won in South Dakota on Tuesday. But with Republicans long dominating the state’s elections, the most interesting development was the passage of separate proposals to legalize both medical and recreational marijuana.

Election officials received a historic number of absentee ballots, raising the possibility that tallying the results could take longer than usual.

South Dakota had two marijuana proposals on the ballot — one for medical use and one for recreational — and advocates pitched them to voters as a package deal. Even so, they must have been stunned to see voters say yes to recreational marijuana, putting South Dakota among just a handful of states to take such a step.

South Dakota voters have approved medical marijuana in a big sign of how far the drug has come in public acceptance. Just four years ago, voters soundly rejected the idea. But with several states nationally making recreational marijuana legal, the landscape has changed. Still, even legalizing medical marijuana is a significant jump in South Dakota after voters solidly rejected the idea just four years ago. The state also saw a protracted struggle between lawmakers and Governor Kristi Noem to get industrial hemp legalized, with Noem arguing it would be akin to legalizing marijuana. South Dakota now joins neighboring states including Minnesota and North Dakota in making marijuana OK for several qualifying medical conditions.

Categories: Politics & Elections, South Dakota News