The State of South Dakota has made history by becoming the first state to legalize both medicinal and recreational cannabis for adults at the same time.
While South Dakota comes behind over a dozen other states in legalizing marijuana for adult use, the state has moved fast with both initiatives. Both Measure 26 and Amendment A were shown to voters on their ballots. Measure 26 is intended to establish a state medical cannabis program.
Amendment A is South Dakota’s constitutional amendment seeking legalization of adult-use cannabis. It also calls for the state legislature to draft hemp and medicinal cannabis regulations by 1st April 2022. Under the law, adults could possess no more than one ounce of the drug, and they can only grow up to three cannabis plants.
Former US attorney for South Dakota, Brendan Johnson, has been a staunch advocate for the decriminalization of cannabis citing a positive impact on the economy and criminal justice system.
Speaking at a news conference in June, Johnson said that the state would see Republicans and Democrats coming together to speak out against prohibition. He added that prohibition never worked in the past and that for the sake of the state economy and future, residents needed to get it right.
The success of South Dakota’s initiatives on the ballot reflects reform campaigns that were primarily focused on social justice. The movement behind Measure 26 and Amendment A, South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws, had previously released a report built on data from the federal Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR), which showed a racial disparity in state arrests.
According to the report, between 2007 and 2016, Blacks and Native Americans were arrested five times more than White residents.
Recent polls by Lawrence and Schiller revealed that South Dakotans showed heavy support for both measures., making their approval almost inevitable.