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The Legal Status of Cannabis in South Dakota

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South Dakota is one of the newest states to acquire legal status for medical cannabis.

Cannabis in South Dakota became legal for medical purposes on July 1, 2021, after its legalization on November 3, 2020, by a ballot initiative (Measure 26).  Prior to this, cannabis in all its forms was illegal being the state in the U.S. that outlawed ingestion of “controlled substances”.

The list of qualifying conditions which became effective on July 1, 202, 1 includes:

  • Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) as well as a positive status for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV);
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a.k.a Lou Gehrig’s disease;
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS);
  • Cancer-associated with nausea or vomiting severely, chronic or severe pain, or cachexia which is severe wasting
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Epilepsy and seizures
  • Glaucoma
  • PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder).

Historically, South Dakota has been known to have one of the most vicious cannabis laws countrywide with possessing any amount of concentrates, edibles, and hash being a Class 4 felony, which is punishable by a jail term not exceeding 10 years or a fine not exceeding $20,000.

The fight to legalize recreational cannabis in South Dakota

Measure 26 and Constitutional Amendment A which were initiated in South Dakota and certified by “the South Dakota Secretary of State” for the 2020 ballot sought to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. Both these measures were passed by voters in a 69.9% and 54.2% win. This would have made South Dakota the first state to leapfrog from prohibition to legalization.

However, a judge on February 8, 2021, ruled favoring a lawsuit that argued the unconstitutionality of Amendment A due to its violation of the state's “single-subject rule for ballot measures”. This held back the legalization of adult use marijuana in this state from being implemented. A Supreme Court appeal on November 24, 2021 ruled 4-1 to uphold the previous appeal ruling and thus cannabis for recreational use was not legalized.

In March 2022, the South Dakota Senate approved bills for the legalization and taxing of marijuana as well as expungements of low-level marijuana offenses. This was following a House vote.

The Amendment, (SB 3) was passed in a narrow 18-17 vote. This bill that got the sponsorship of Sen. Michael Rohl, went through the Commerce and Energy Committee earlier and now advances to the house. It proposes that adults aged 21 and older be allowed legally to purchase as well as possess not more than 1 ounce of marijuana from licensed retailers. The South Dakota Marijuana Legalization Initiative stands a chance of appearing on the South Dakota ballot as an “initiated state statute” on November 8, 2022.

Lydia K. (Bsc. RN) is a cannabis writer, which, considering where you’re reading this, makes perfect sense. Currently, she is a regular writer for Mace Media. In the past, she has written for MyBud, RX Leaf & Dine Magazine (Canada), CBDShopy (UK) and Cannavalate & Pharmadiol (Australia). She is best known for writing epic news articles and medical pieces. Occasionally, she deviates from news and science and creates humorous articles. And boy doesn't she love that! She equally enjoys ice cream, as should all right-thinking people.