Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Legislature needed for taxing, sales structure if IM 27 passes

South Dakota voters will decide whether to legalize the possession and use of marijuana for adults, again.

But the ballot measure does not approve the sale of the plant.

It all goes back to November of last year.

Cannabis reform activists were waiting on the South Dakota Supreme Court to rule on a challenge to Amendment A. That voter-approved amendment passed with 54 percent approval. It legalized recreational and medical marijuana as well as industrial hemp.

On Nov. 24, justices found the amendment violated the single-subject rule and tossed the measure out. But the deadline to file an initiated measure for the 2022 ballot was Nov. 8, two weeks earlier.

“They deprived us of the ability to base our 2022 initiative on the ruling," said Matthew Schweich, president of South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws.

The group submitted an initiated measure to legalize only the possession and use of marijuana. It’s called IM 27.

An article on recently pointed out the measure does not approve the sale of marijuana, the revenue from which has come up in debate about the proposal. A regulation and tax structure will have to come from the state legislature.

Schweich said the gaps in the measure were by design—to stick to only one subject. If it passes, he said the legislature has three choices—build upon the state’s medical regulatory framework for recreational, repeal the measure, or make South Dakota the only state where pot is legal, but with nowhere to buy it.

“And I don’t think they’re going to choose that option. I think that the choices will be clear. It’s not going to be easy,” Schweich said. “We’re going to have to work very hard, but if we have a good strategy and plan going into the session, I do think that we could get an implementation bill passed.”

Last session, the Republican-controlled state Senate passed a regulatory framework for legal marijuana sales. The bill failed in the House.

IM 27 allows for marijuana possession and use for South Dakotans 21 and older. Election day is Nov. 8.

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.