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Amendment A would allow recreational marijuana in South Dakota | Local News Stories

Editor’s Note: Due to space limitations, the outline of Initiated Measure 26 will run in the Thursday edition of the Capital Journal. 

On Nov. 3, South Dakotans will have the opportunity to make history as the first state to legalize medicinal and recreational marijuana at the same time. But what, exactly, does each measure accomplish? Here, the Capital Journal breaks down the main points from Amendment A.

Amendment A

What does it do?

Amendment A legalizes recreational marijuana for use by people aged 21 and older. Specifically, the amendment aims to legalize possession, use, transportation, and distribution of marijuana. The South Dakota Department of Revenue will provide licenses, implement and enforce the amendment. There are provisions that require the Legislature to pass laws regarding hemp and medical marijuana should IM 26 fail.

The amendment also specifies a 15% tax imposed on marijuana sales. The tax revenue will be used to reimburse the Department of Revenue’s implementation costs, and the remaining revenue will be equally divided between supporting public schools and the State’s general fund.

If passed, when will it take effect?

Legalization would take effect July 1, 2021, following the official canvass by the State Canvassing Board, according to Drey Samuelson, political director for the advocacy group South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws. The Department of Revenue then has until April 1, 2022 to develop a plan for implementing growers, wholesalers, and dispensaries.

How will legalization affect current laws?

People younger than 21 years old remain prohibited from purchasing, possessing, using, selling, or transporting marijuana.

Marijuana cannot be consumed while a person is operating a vehicle, nor may it be smoked by a passenger, although this does not prohibit passengers from ingesting marijuana entirely.

“This is a fairly standard restriction in legalization laws that have been passed in other states. Prohibiting smoking for drivers and passengers makes it a bit easier for police officers to enforce laws against driving under the influence,” Samuelson said.

Marijuana cannot be consumed in public places, in locations where smoking tobacco is prohibited, on school grounds or on correctional facility grounds.

Employers are not obligated to allow marijuana use and can place restrictions for their employees as they see fit. Using marijuana is outlawed in the workplace.

What are an individual’s rights under Amendment A?

If a person is over 21 years of age, it is legal to purchase or consume one ounce or less of marijuana. No more than eight grams of cannabis can be in a concentrated form. A person can cultivate up to three marijuana plants, as long as they live in a city or town without a licensed dispensary. The plants must be kept at a private residence in a locked space and cannot be visible from a public place.

How will the government regulate it?

The Department of Revenue has the exclusive power to license and regulate the cultivation, manufacture, testing, transport, delivery, and sale of marijuana. The department will issue licenses for commercial cultivators and manufacturers, independent testing facilities that can analyze and certify the safety and potency of the product, wholesalers, and retailers.

Local governments have the power to regulate the time, place, manner, and number of licensed marijuana establishments in its jurisdiction, and have the right to limit or ban dispensaries outright. A local government cannot, however, prohibit marijuana transportation through its jurisdiction on public roads.

How does medical marijuana fit in Amendment A?

If Measure 26 does not also pass, Amendment A requires the state legislature to pass laws regarding medical marijuana use no later than April 1, 2022. If IM26 does pass, Amendment A provides protections that do not allow the legislation to repeal the measure in the event it passes.

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