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Cannabis Advocates say SD’s Vote Legalizing Pot Could Affect Federal Level Reform


National cannabis advocates say South Dakota’s vote legalizing medical and recreation pot could affect cannabis reform at the federal level.

South Dakota is one of four state legalizing marijuana for adult consumption. New Jersey, Arizona and Montana are also legalizing pot for recreational use.

South Dakota and Mississippi also legalized marijuana for medical use.

New Approach out of Washington DC is a national cannabis organization and pumped in $925 thousand into the South Dakota race.

Matthew Schweich is the deputy director for the Marijuana Policy Project, another group that worked with South Dakotans for Better Marijuana laws. He says he’s not surprised Amendment A passed.

“It’s still difficult to grasp what we’ve accomplished,” Schweich says. “To go from some of the harshest marijuana laws in the country to being one of the fifteen states that have legalize marijuana for adults is the biggest jumps in public policy of any state. It’s a very positive shift. I think South Dakota has addressed marijuana reform in a very smart way.”

Schweich says South Dakota’s vote is the most surprising victory of the night. He says of the states that legalized marijuana on election day, South Dakota is the most conservative. He says that shows marijuana reform is a bi-partisan issue.

South Dakotans will have to wait until July first before marijuana is legal for recreational consumption.

That’s the day constitutional amendments, initiated measures or referred laws go into effect, following the official canvas of election results.

The department of revenue has until April 1, of 2022 to promulgate rules surrounding taxable marijuana sales. The tax rate on those sales is 15 percent. And the legislature may adjust that rate after November 3rd of 2024.


Lee Strubinger is SDPB’s Rapid City-based news and political reporter. A former reporter for Fort Lupton Press (CO) and Colorado Public Radio, Lee holds a master’s in public affairs reporting from the University of Illinois-Springfield.