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Marijuana may soon become legal in South Dakota

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SOUTH DAKOTA (KTIV) - Marijuana may become legal in the state of South Dakota soon. A Medical Marijuana Initiative will be on the ballot this Nov. 3.

South Dakota voters will see Amendment A and Measure 26 on the ballot. Both measures are a simple majority, meaning each needs 50% of the vote plus one to pass.

Amendment A is "an amendment to the South Dakota Constitution to legalize, regulate, and tax marijuana."

Measure 26 is "an initiated measure to legalize marijuana for medical use".

Measure 26 would establish a medical marijuana program in South Dakota for people who have a debilitating medical condition.

Drey Samuelson, Political Director for South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws, says if passed, there would be several qualifying conditions for medical use, including heath issues such as severe debilitating pain, severe nausea or seizures.

Under the measure, patients could possess a maximum of three ounces, or as prescribed by a physician.

And he says patients will be required to obtain a registration card from the State Department of Health.

If Amendment A is passed, it would allow people 21 and older to possess, use, transport, and distribute marijuana and marijuana paraphernalia.

The amendment change would allow people to possess or distribute one ounce or less. And under some circumstances, marijuana plants and marijuana produced from those plants may also be possessed.

Samuelson says patients deserve safe, and legal access to marijuana.

"Are they going to get it from illegal, illicit sources that may well be supplied by a drug cartel, and then they have to buy it many times from a dingy dark alley somewhere and to risk their jobs, reputations, and freedom. If they do that, they don't know the strength of what they're getting or whether it's been adulterated with toxic chemicals," said Samuelson.

David Owen, President of the South Dakota Chamber of Commerce, and the chairman for "No way on Amendment A" ballot committee, says they have a number of concerns with making recreational marijuana legal.

Owen says people who need medical marijuana don't need to vote for Amendment A.

But "South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws" says if the amendment doesn't pass, lawmakers can easily repeal Measure 26 since it's just a law.

"We are concerned that recreational marijuana will increase usage for adults as young as 12. In Colorado, it has increased accidental poisonings with children very young because they put THC in gummy bears, and candy and the last thing we have to say is there is no way this belongs in the constitution," said Owen.

So what kind of a financial impact would this mean for the state, if the amendment passes?

According to language in the ballot, the amendment would provide revenue from licensing fees, sales tax, and a 15% excise tax, similar to taxes on tobacco products.

After regulatory costs, the state would distribute 50% of net revenues annually to public schools, and 50% to the general fund.

According to the ballot, estimated net revenues in the 2021 fiscal year would be more than $355,000.

It would then jump to more than $10.7 million in the 2022 fiscal year and nearly $20 million in the 2023 fiscal year.

South Dakota will be one of five states that will be voting on legalizing marijuana during the General Election. But what about Nebraska and Iowa? Where do they stand when it comes to marijuana laws?

Nebraska is one of 26 states that doesn't jail first-time offenders for possession of a small amount. Instead, first possession of up to an ounce is a civil infraction.

Meanwhile, there is currently no medical marijuana allowances in the state.

Just like in Nebraska, marijuana possession in Iowa is illegal. Possession in Iowa, even small amounts, is a misdemeanor.

For medical purposes, CDB Oil and less than 3% of THC oil are allowed in the state.

Xava Parra

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