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South Dakotans have been looking forward to a final say on Constitutional Amendment A — the move to legalize recreational cannabis. Since voter approval in November 2020, the Adult-use Marijuana Study Subcommittee of the Marijuana Interim Study Committee has been convening to hash out the details that would form the policies regulating adult-use South Dakota recreational marijuana.

Expectations were high on the likelihood of Amendment A becoming effective on July 1, 2021. However, July came and passed, and the Supreme court did not decide on the legalization of SD marijuana. For a moment, it seemed like everything about legalizing recreational South Dakota weed was put on hold. The hopes of seeing a few South Dakota recreational weed dispensaries springing up started to feel far-fetched.

Did South Dakota legalize marijuana? The simple answer is no. So, what’s going on? When will the senate legalize cannabis in South Dakota?

South Dakota Weed Laws 2020

Brendan Johnson, a former US Attorney for the District of South Dakota, filed an initiative for Constitutional Amendment A in November 2019. The amendment aimed to seek legislative approval for the legalization of adult-use South Dakota recreational marijuana. Later on, on November 3, 2020, South Dakotans were casting their votes for two marijuana initiatives: the 2020 South Dakota Measure 26 and South Dakota Constitutional Amendment A, Marijuana Legalization Initiative 2020.

Both legislative initiatives indicate a landmark stride towards legalizing cannabis in South Dakota. Although similar, these SD marijuana initiatives toe different lines. In fact, some experts think they are conflicting, stating a need to pursue one instead of both. Let’s have a quick look at these initiatives guiding South Dakota’s legalization of marijuana.

South Dakota Constitutional Amendment A

South Dakota recreational marijuana initiative, Amendment A, seeks South Dakota legalization of adult-use marijuana for people age 21 and older. If this initiative becomes a law, the State Department of Revenue will be the authority regulating the South Dakota weed industry. They will issue licenses to authorized cultivators, wholesalers, South Dakota recreational weed dispensaries, and testing facilities.

South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws (SDBML) is at the forefront of legalizing recreational and medical cannabis in South Dakota. SDBML ensured that the initiative made it to the ballots on November 3, 2020, and 54% of South Dakota voters voted for the SD marijuana legalization initiative.

Following voters’ approval, the Adult-use Marijuana Study Subcommittee was set up to research marijuana and work out details that would make up the policies regarding South Dakota recreational cannabis laws, usage, and applications. So far, the subcommittee has made a few recommendations and provided insights on what South Dakota weed law would look like when the supreme court approves.

As a law, constitutional amendment A would mean that:

  1. Marijuana and marijuana paraphernalia would be available and legal for use to individuals age 21 years and older.
  2. Individuals may distribute or possess one ounce of marijuana.
  3. A 15% tax on all cannabis sales would go to the State Department of Revenue and be used for other state development purposes.
  4. The state would provide licenses for South Dakota recreational weed dispensaries, cultivation, and testing facilities. However, local governments may also institute their prohibitions and restrictions.
  5. Individuals will not be able to grow SD pot in their private residences.

2020 South Dakota Measure 26

Measure 26 was also on the ballots on November 3, 2020. Although side by side with Constitutional Amendment A, this legislative initiative sought the legalization of medical marijuana for patients with qualifying conditions. Following the South Dakota voter’s ballot approval, the state set up the Medical Marijuana Study Subcommittee. This group would research and develop appropriate policies for the regulation of medical marijuana in South Dakota.

As a law, Measure 26 would mean that:

  1. The state would approve the cultivation, testing, and distribution of SD marijuana for medical purposes.
  2. The state would allow for the manufacture of cannabis-based products to treat or alleviate qualifying medical conditions.
  3. Patients seeking medical marijuana MUST obtain a medical marijuana card from the State Department of Health.
  4. Patients with medical marijuana cards may possess up to 3 oz of marijuana and grow a maximum of three cannabis plants at home.

Controversies Around South Dakota Recreational Cannabis

Advocates meant for constitutional Amendment A and Measure 26 to get judicial approval and become effective on July 1, 2021. In a twist of events, both did not get the Supreme Court’s green light on July 1, 2021. However, lawmakers moved the medical marijuana program’s effective date to January 1, 2022.

How about Amendment A? Well, while an effective date is not in sight, the program remains subject to review. SDBML and the study subcommittee have been facing opposition from the legislative and judicial systems. Opponents oppose Amendment A on two grounds:

  1. A claim that the amendment violates the constitutional single-subject rule, which suggests that an amendment must only address one subject. Amendment A addresses the regulation of SD marijuana and the role of the State Department of Revenue, seemingly taking the department’s position up a step to become the state government’s fourth branch.
  2. A claim that contrary to what constitutes an amendment, Amendment A seeks to revise instead of amending the constitution. And for a constitution revision to occur, three-fourth of all state legislative house members have to call for a constitutional convention.

Also, the supreme court has not given any final say on the regulation of South Dakota weed or licensing of South Dakota recreational weed dispensaries and distributors. These technicalities have put the pursuit of Amendment A on a temporary hold. However, South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws and the Adult-Use Marijuana Study Subcommittee continue to work tirelessly to get it back on the ballots in 2022.

The simple answer is yes.

Measure 26 was able to scale through judicial hurdles, and we now have January 1, 2022, as the effective date for the regulation of medical marijuana in South Dakota. However, medical marijuana may not become readily available and accessible to patients until May 2022.

For legal South Dakota recreational cannabis, we are not sure if that will be possible in 2022. But there is a likelihood that, with efforts made so far, the legalization of South Dakota recreational marijuana may not be far off.

At the moment, we can expect legal medical cannabis in South Dakota in 2022, but there is no certainty on the state of South Dakota weed for recreational purposes. Given the former, the question on your mind may be, “Did South Dakota legalize marijuana?” The answer is technically no.

SD pot – both for medical and recreational purposes – is still very illegal in South Dakota at the moment.

LEARN MORE: How to Get a South Dakota Medical Marijuana Card | How to Get a North Dakota Medical Marijuana Card

How Can I Get Medical Cannabis in SD?

Measure 26 states that for patients to access medical marijuana in South Dakota, they must possess a registration card. But, to get this card, you’ll have to get a recommendation from a certified physician. Make sure your doctor has some knowledge of the cannabis sphere.

Unfortunately, Elevate Holistics can’t currently service South Dakota. (Not yet, at least.) But, once the state establishes their MMJ programs, who knows what the future may hold. For now, we’ll stay being your resource for all things cannabis.

So, do you still want to learn more about medical cannabis in South Dakota or other states? If so, feel free to reach out to us anytime. Also, you can sign up for our newsletter for helpful MMJ updates.

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About the author

Ally Hilbert is the Content and SEO Manager here at Elevate Holistics, working to publish and run Elevate’s blogs and landing pages, as well as conduct keyword research, competitor analysis, and more. After having brain surgery at the age of 17, Ally became fascinated with medical cannabis and its benefits, and, at 18, had her first CBD-related piece published. Today, she’s been writing about cannabis for the past six years, and simply can’t think of a better company to get to do it for. When she’s not writing or editing, Ally’s side-by-side with her pup Sadie in Seattle.
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