South Dakota marijuana supporters will have to wait before they can celebrate their big election day win in legalizing medical and recreational marijuana.

Feature photo source: Unsplash / Unsplash (mashup)

Marijuana Takes The Day At The Ballot

The big election day winner was Marijuana. Cannabis initiatives were passed in all four states that were on the ballot. These states include New Jersey, Arizona, Montana and South Dakota, who all voted in favor of it.

Americans demonstrated that they are ready for change where marijuana laws are concerned by allowing the green wave to take over.

“No state has ever moved from marijuana prohibition to allowing both medical use and adult-use access, quite literally, overnight,” NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri said.

“These votes are a stunning rebuke to those elected officials that for decades have refused to move forward with substantive marijuana law reform legislation, and they are yet another indication of the near-universal popularity of these policy changes among voters in all regions of the United States.”

South Dakota Passes Recreational and Medical Marijuana

In South Dakota, recreational marijuana passed with 53% of the vote and medical marijuana with 69%.

South Dakotans aged 21-years and above will now be allowed to possess and distribute an ounce or less of marijuana.

Why South Dakota Marijuana Enthusiasts Will Have To Wait To Light the Bud

Despite passing the initiatives legalizing marijuana at the ballot, residents of South Dakota will have to wait until July 1, 2021 when the ballot measure will take effect.

This is under a state law that took effect in 2017.

“Until 2017, all ballot measures took effect on the day following the completion of the official canvass conducted by the State Canvassing Board,” according to the South Dakota Legislative Research Council. “In 2017, this date was changed to the first day of July following completion of the official canvass by the State Canvassing Board.”

It is therefore still illegal to possess, distribute, transport or cultivate marijuana until just before next year’s Independence Day. This is when the ballot measure will officially take effect.

South Dakota Department of Revenue’s Role In Implementing Marijuana Laws

The role of the department of revenue is creating rules around licensing of marijuana and fees among others.

The task of Lawmakers is to create a medical marijuana program within the same time-frame.

Measure 26 Approved In The Ballot

The Medical Marijuana Initiative, popularly known as Measure 26, also got a Yes during the elections.

It allows patients with debilitating health conditions to possess a maximum of three ounces of marijuana under the measure.

The measure describes a debilitating medical condition as, “A chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition or its treatment that produces one or more of the following: cachexia or wasting syndrome; severe, debilitating pain; severe nausea; seizures; or severe and persistent muscle spasms, including those characteristic of multiple sclerosis.” Under the measure, the Department of Health could add additional qualifying conditions.

Growing Marijuana At Home In South Dakota

Measure 26 also permits these patients to grow about three marijuana plants in their homes.

This however only applies to residents above 21 years that possess a medical card.

“Additionally, if a resident cardholder is allowed to grow marijuana plants the cardholder may possess a minimum of 3 plants, as well as marijuana and products made from those plants,” it reads.

South Dakota Marijuana Arrests

The implementation of the new voter-approved cannabis rules will see the light of day next year but it is still cause for celebration.

South Dakota has come a long way to finally pass initiatives that will legalize medical and recreational marijuana.

The Numbers Don’t Lie

Just two years ago, marijuana-related crimes were at an all-time high in South Dakota. Statistics show 1 in 10 people were arrested in 2018 because of marijuana.

These arrests tarnished many people’s records. They also resulted in millions of taxpayers money going into the prison system.

South Dakota police made 31,883 arrests for marijuana in South Dakota from 2009 to 2018. Of these, 95% of them were arrested for possession of two ounces or less.

A study conducted earlier this year confirmed that keeping 4,200 people locked up for marijuana-related crimes for just 15 days costs the state approximately $5.7 million.

“As federal reform continues to stall, it is more important than ever that we run and pass as many viable marijuana reform ballot initiatives as possible next year. That is how we will ensure success in Congress in 2021,” said MPP Deputy Director Matthew Schweich.

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