For the first time ever a state is attempting to pass laws allowing both medical and recreational cannabis at the same time.
South Dakota has a huge opportunity in front of it when residents head to the polls in November. Now confirmed, ballot initiatives IM26, which calls for the legalization of medical marijuana and Constitutional Amendment A, which calls for the legalization of recreational marijuana, will be up for vote in the upcoming election.
Currently, South Dakota is the only state in the region planning to tackle the issue of legal marijuana in the 2020 election. Until last month advocates believed Nebraska would be the next to do so, however their Supreme Court delivered a stunning blow to the movement last month.
A Nebraska Supreme Court ruled that the proposed initiative to legalize cannabis was unconstitutional because of the way it was written. There is a single subject rule that only allows one topic to be addressed per initiative and it was the opinion of the court that growing cannabis and possessing it were not the same. As a result, it was removed from the November ballot amid disbelief from patients and advocates all over the state.
What Is IM26? Who Is Sponsoring The Initiative?
Initiated Measure 26 (IM26) is a legislative initiative that seeks to legalize the use of marijuana for medical purposes. Backed by a group called New Approach South Dakota, it had more than 30,000 signatures by the time it was submitted for verification in late 2019.
The state validated more than 77% of the signatures, or around 25,000, showing that there is definitely support for the legalization movement in South Dakota.
If it passes, IM26 would make it legal for patients with a qualifying condition to use medical marijuana as a treatment for their illness. Patients can possess up to three ounces of marijuana at a time and can even grow their own cannabis, if prescribed by a licensed physician. Ultimately, it will be up to the State Department of Health to set limits on amounts a patient can possess or grow.
What Is Considered A Qualifying Condition?
According to the legislation, a debilitating condition is "a chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition or its treatment that produces one or more of the following: cachexia or wasting syndrome; severe, debilitating pain; severe nausea; seizures; or severe and persistent muscle spasms, including those characteristic of multiple sclerosis."
* The measure gives the State Health Department the authority to add more conditions as the program matures.
What is Constitutional Amendment A?
Constitutional Amendment A calls for the legalization of marijuana and marijuana products, as well as creates an adult-use market for anyone over the age of 21. If passed as written, individuals would be able to possess or distribute up to one ounce of cannabis.
One of the conditions of the amendment is that the South Dakota State Legislature must legalize medical marijuana and pass laws that legalize and regulate the sale of hemp, both by April 1st, 2022.
Under the provisions of Amendment A, if an individual lives in a jurisdiction with no retail cannabis shops, they are permitted to grow up to 3 plats of their own, not to exceed 6 total in any home.
Also, cannabis sales would be taxed at 15% with 50% of the revenue going to education and the other 50% going into the state's general fund (the IRS is reimbursed for the cost of the implementation of the amendment first).
While a specific municipality could ban cannabis shops, testing facilities, or cultivators, they can't prevent cannabis being transported within their jurisdiction by those who have the appropriate license to do so.