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Pro-marijuana group submits signatures for recreational legalization

Matthew Schweich
Matthew Schweich, campaign director of South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws, speaks Wednesday at an event to sound the alarm about thousands of signatures needed to place recreational marijuana legalization on the ballot.

A pro-marijuana group says it's submitting enough signatures to place a question on the ballot legalizing recreational marijuana sales.

South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws says it collected over 19,000 signatures from registered voters.

That’s 2,000 more than needed to qualify for the November ballot, but the signatures must still be verified.

Matthew Schweich is a campaign director for the group. He says the question is different from Amendment A, a cannabis legalization question approved by voters in November 2020. That was overturned in the courts on constitutional grounds.

“This initiative is shorter and simpler and bulletproof against any type of lawsuit, such as the one we saw against Amendment A,” Schweich says. “Now, it is a statutory initiative so we will need to work hard to defend it. But there are key differences between these two initiatives. If you believe that legalizing cannabis is a smart public policy decision for the state and if you believe in upholding the initiative process and respecting the will of the people, then I hope you vote yes on this in November.”

The ballot question legalizes marijuana and sets up a regulatory framework for marijuana sales.

The South Dakota Secretary of State will now run a random sample to determine whether enough valid signatures are gathered.

Voters approved medical marijuana in 2020, and the state recently began issuing medical cards and cultivator licenses.

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.