On Monday, the secretary of state’s office in South Dakota announced that a measure seeking to legalize recreational marijuana has qualified for the state’s November ballot.
In September, the former federal prosecutor, Brenda Johnson, submitted the legislation which would permit people who are 21 years and above to possess and distribute a maximum of one ounce of cannabis. The measure also allows people to grow a maximum of three marijuana plants.
The residents of South Dakota will be deciding on two separate measures during the November elections because last month, the secretary of state said that the campaign seeking to legalize medical marijuana in South Dakota had gathered more than 30,000 signatures, which is the required number for the measure to qualify for the 2020 ballot.
Under the adult-use marijuana legalization measure, the Department of Revenue in South Dakota would be tasked with the responsibility of issuing permits to the manufacturers, testing laboratories, and retailers. A tax of 15% would be imposed on all marijuana products sold, and the revenue would be used to cover the implementation of marijuana programs and public education. Some of it would be added to the state general fund.
The measure seeking to legalize medical marijuana has provisions that require the lawmakers to approve the legislation allowing patients to access medical cannabis and the sale of hemp by April 1, 2022.
The signatures required for medical marijuana to enter the ballot were 16,962, which is lower than that of recreational marijuana, which is a proposed constitutional amendment, which were 33,921 signatures.
In a press release, the Secretary of State, Steven Barnett, said that his office conducted a random sample of the submitted petition signatures and found 68.745% (36,707) of them to be valid.
Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) and New Approach PAC are both in favor of the recreational and medical marijuana measures.
Speaking to an online industry publication, the deputy director of the Marijuana Policy Project, Matthew Shweich, said that South Dakota would be the first state to legalize both medical and recreational marijuana on the same ballot in the history of America. The legalization of recreational marijuana would be of benefit to the residents of South Dakota as it would mark the end of unlawful arrests of law-abiding citizens for marijuana offenses. Instead, law enforcement will use its resources to combat severe crimes. Recreational marijuana sales will generate revenue for the state and create new jobs.
There is less likelihood of Congress passing a marijuana legalization measure this year, said Schweish, who played a significant role in the campaigns for collecting the signatures for the two initiatives.
Marijuana advocates are hopeful that the voters will approve both measures; however, they are also expecting pushback from Gov. Kristi Noem, who opposed hemp legalization legislation in 2019, as well as the state Republican Party, which urged the voters not to sign the ballot petition in September.
In the U.S., other states, such as New Jersey and Mississippi, are also going to enter their measures in the ballot for the voters to decide in November’s elections.
It is widely believed that the entire cannabis industry, including entities like Dama Financial and Green Hygienics Holdings Inc. (OTCQB: GRYN), will be following the ballot measures closely since they could determine whether the wave to legalize marijuana across the country hits a major speed bump or gathers steam.
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