New proposed measure could make medical marijuana illegal again

Attorney General Marty Jackley released a draft ballot explanation for a proposed measure that would repeal the current medical marijuana law.
Published: Jul. 28, 2023 at 8:34 PM CDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) - According to Ballot Pedia, in 2020 almost 70% of voters were in favor of the legalization of medical marijuana in South Dakota, making it legal to sell and use within the state. Thursday, Attorney General Marty Jackley released a draft ballot explanation for a proposed measure that would repeal that law.

Initiated Measure 26, better known as the medical marijuana initiative, established a medical marijuana program in South Dakota for people who have a debilitating medical condition. The initiative was passed in 2020, but some in the state disagree with the legalization. Now, a new ballot initiative has been proposed to completely repeal Initiated Measure 26, making medical marijuana once again illegal.

“I’ve been attorney general for about 11 years, and I think almost every year I’m attorney general I write one or more ballot-related explanations on marijuana, whether it’s recreational or medical. This will be an ongoing discussion in South Dakota, I think it’s an ongoing discussion with both medical and recreational. So I don’t anticipate this particular measure would end that discussion,” said Attorney General Marty Jackley.

Current distributors have voiced their concerns about the possible repeal of the medical program. Kittrick Jeffries, CEO of Puffy’s Dispensary says right now more than 80,000 South Dakotans rely on medical cannabis to treat various conditions. He fears that a repeal would send South Dakota “back to the stone ages,” and put these users in dangerous situations.

“If the medical cannabis program gets repealed, those people, those patients, those who are suffering the most, will have to go back to the black market. That means that products that are possibly laced with more harmful drugs, such as fentanyl, or even pesticides. Then you would have to figure out what to do with the thousands of pounds that are in the medical cannabis portfolio that are out for patients to purchase. What do you do, do you destroy it? How does that work? What’s that look like,” said Jeffries.

The explanation was filed Thursday, and the public comment stage will remain open until August 6. The final explanation will be given to the secretary of state on August 16, and would then require more than 17,000 valid petition signatures to qualify for the 2024 ballot.

We reached out to Travis Ismay who proposed the repeal measure for a statement. He declined to comment at this time but will be issuing a press release.