South Dakotas Voters Rally In Support Of Marijuana Legalization
As if 2020 couldn't get any crazier, a new poll suggests voters in the Mount Rushmore State may be ready to take the plunge. Marijuana legalization could begin in South Dakota by 2020, according to a recent University of North Dakota poll. The poll, conducted by a South Carolina-based marketing firm on behalf of a group opposed to legalization, found that about 60 percent of voters intend to vote to allow adults 21 and older to use marijuana.
But the data contains one significant caveat: Amendment A is not the only pot-smoking proposal on the ballot in South Dakota. There is also Measure 26, which would legalize medical cannabis in the state.
The poll found that Initiative 26 enjoys even wider support, with 70 percent of voters saying they support the proposal. The Argus Leader notes that those who are trying to loosen marijuana laws in South Dakota say that passing Amendment A and Measure 26 is the only way to ensure that lawmakers don't tinker with the measures when voters pass them in November because while initiated measures can be changed or adjusted by lawmakers, a subsequent vote is needed to get the change. Supporters of changing the measure filed a petition late last year to put it in play for the 2020 election in South Carolina. With both recreational and medical proposals on the ballot, the rural and deeply conservative state is in a unique position, but it is one that advocates of legalization believe is necessary to ensure that reform actually takes place.
In November, South Dakota Secretary of State John Barnett, a Republican, announced that the medical cannabis measure was qualified for election. In January, Barnett certified the signatures of the recreational marijuana proposal.
Four years later, when a proposal for medical marijuana was on the ballot in South Dakota, it was rejected by 63 percent to 36 percent. Four years ago, in November 2012, voters in South Dakota rejected a measure that would have legalized medical cannabis with a 52 percent majority of the vote. Medical marijuana advocates in North Dakota and elsewhere in the country now have a chance of redemption, according to a recent poll.
More than 30 other states, including North Dakota, have legalized medical marijuana, according to the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Rights (NORML).
Supporters of the measure are confident it can pass in November, and are touting the bipartisan support it has received from state officials and leaders in addition to encouraging polls.
Possession of any amount of marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 and six months in prison, according to NORML. There would be no penalties for possession of less than an ounce or less of the drug and no jail time or jail time for consumption.