SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KCAU) — South Dakota’s Supreme Court rejected and threw out Amendment A back in February — a measure that garnered 54% approval in 2020 — but the South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws group has a backup plan in place.
Matthew Schweich serves as campaign director of South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws, and these days, he and the rest of the group are working overtime to compile around 17,000 signatures of registered South Dakotan voters before the fast-approaching deadline of May 3.
The new initiative the group’s pushing to get on the 2022 ballot is a shortened, watered-down version of Amendment A, focusing strictly on individual legalization.
Schweich said the bill would have included regulations on taxing, licensing, and other industry-related laws but talked about how the state’s Supreme Court not ruling on the constitutionality of Amendment A until just two months ago deeply affected how this initiative was written.
“We didn’t have their ruling when it came time to decide what initiative to move forward with so one injustice here is that the South Dakota Supreme Court not only wiped out what voters approved in 2020 but they also interfered with the next election by waiting so, so long to issue a ruling,” said Schweich.
Schweich explained why even the average South Dakotan should care about cannabis legalization.
“From the perspectives of public health and public safety, makes no sense to force cannabis into a black market and we can instead regulate it, control it, and use revenue to fund important programs that we need,” said Schweich.
Schweich called the court’s ruling of Amendment A as violating South Dakota’s ‘single subject’ rule “embarrassing” as it mentioned medical marijuana and hemp once, but said although their campaign remains a few thousand signatures short, he remains optimistic the bill will get support this November if it makes it on.
“But that’s what’s happened here. We can’t change the past. We’ve gotten an initiative, it’s a good initiative, and we’re very confident if we get it on the ballot, we can win,” said Schweich.
Schweich says signature drives will be held in four major South Dakota cities this weekend. A website with the full list of petition locations can be found here.