South Dakota’s Adult-Use Cannabis Initiative Gathers Momentum with Signature Submission

Advocates in South Dakota are making significant strides toward legalizing adult-use cannabis, as they recently submitted a substantial number of signatures to propel their initiative onto the November ballot.

The South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws (SDBML) spearheaded the effort, amassing an impressive total of 29,030 signatures. These signatures were officially submitted on May 7, meeting the deadline stipulated by the Secretary of State Monae Johnson’s office. Of this count, 17,508 signatures must undergo verification to secure the initiative’s placement on the ballot. SDBML’s executive director, Matthew Schweich, expressed confidence in their achievement, stating, “Today marks the culmination of seven months of dedicated work by advocates and volunteers across South Dakota. We are highly confident in our collection of signatures from registered voters, positioning us favorably for this November’s ballot.”

South Dakota's Adult-Use Cannabis Initiative

The organization voiced its optimism and assurance of surpassing the signature threshold required for qualification.

Deb Peters, President of the Cannabis Industry Association of South Dakota, echoed the sentiment, expressing hope for the state’s progression towards the realization of cannabis legalization. Peters remarked, “South Dakota appears to be on the right path towards embracing the freedom its citizens voted for several years ago. With federal movements leaning towards responsible rescheduling and numerous states reaping the economic benefits of recreational cannabis legalization, it’s encouraging to witness the concerted efforts within this industry. We eagerly anticipate Election Day.”

If approved, the initiative would permit individuals aged 21 and above to purchase and possess up to two ounces of cannabis or 16 grams of concentrates. Additionally, individuals would be allowed to cultivate six cannabis plants per person, with a maximum of 12 plants per household. Notably, possession of cannabis products containing more than 1,600 mg of THC would be prohibited.

The achievement of this milestone can be attributed in part to the authorization granted by the Secretary of State’s office in December 2023, allowing the organization to remunerate canvassers for distributing ballot material and gathering signatures alongside volunteers. The disseminated campaign material included the initiative’s title and ballot description.

According to The Washington Post, Johnson’s office has until August 13 to validate the signatures.

Matthew Schweich, the campaign director for SDBML, reflected on South Dakota’s tumultuous history with adult-use legalization but underscored several compelling reasons for supporting the 2024 measure. Schweich asserted, “At its core, the strongest rationale lies in the incongruity of permitting alcohol legality while penalizing cannabis use, despite the latter’s comparatively lesser harm to individuals and society.”

In 2020, voters approved an adult-use cannabis initiative (Amendment A) and a medical cannabis initiative (Measure 26). However, shortly after the vote, Governor Kristi Noem expressed her disapproval of these measures, stating, “I was personally opposed to these measures and firmly believe they’re the wrong choice for South Dakota’s communities.”

Subsequently, in February 2021, the adult-use initiative faced nullification in court due to its violation of the single-subject rule for amending the state constitution. Despite continued efforts with another adult-use initiative (Measure 27) in 2022, it failed to garner sufficient support from voters.

While progress has been slow, South Dakota has witnessed minor victories. Notably, in July 2023, two law enforcement officers were pardoned for their prior cannabis use, signaling a shift in attitudes towards cannabis-related offenses within the state.


  • No comments yet.
  • Add a comment