Legalize it!

Activists behind proposed citizens’ initiatives to legalize marijuana in Missouri and in South Dakota have provided officials with the requisite number of signatures to qualify their campaigns for the November ballot.

In Missouri, the group Legal Missouri 2022 turned in more than 385,000 signatures on Sunday. That is more than double the total (171,592) necessary to place the proposed constitutional amendment on the ballot. In South Dakota, representatives with the group South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws also recently submitted over 19,000 signatures from voters. Advocates need 16,961 signatures from registered voters in order to qualify the initiative for the ballot.

State officials must now conduct an official assessment of the signature petitions and verify their authenticity before determining whether the two measures will appear on the November ballot.

Missouri’s proposed measure would allow adults to possess (up to three ounces), purchase (from licensed retailers), and home cultivate (up to six flowering plants) limited quantities of cannabis. It would also establish a program to automatically review and expunge those with criminal records for non-violent marijuana-related marijuana offenses.

“It’s time to stop treating adults who use marijuana like criminals,” said Dan Viets, advisory board chairman for Legal Missouri 2022 and Missouri coordinator for NORML — whose six chapters across the state assisted in drafting the initiative and have endorsed it. “It’s also time to repair the damage that marijuana prohibition has done to hundreds of thousands of Missourians’ lives by expunging their criminal records.”

South Dakota’s proposal permits adults to possess (up to one ounce), home-cultivate (up to three mature plants), and/or transfer without remuneration limited quantities of cannabis. The measure does not seek to establish a regulatory framework governing the licensed production and retail sale of marijuana.

In November 2020, the majority of South Dakota voters decided in favor of a separate citizen-initiated measure (Constitutional Amendment A) legalizing the adult-use possession and the licensed retail sale of cannabis. However, shortly following the vote, Republican Gov. Kristi Noem facilitated litigation seeking to strike down the law as unconstitutional. Justices on the South Dakota Supreme Court eventually ruled 4 to 1 that the amendment “violated the single subject requirement in the South Dakota Constitution.” A House-approved bill seeking to legalize the adult-use marijuana market in South Dakota was defeated in the Senate in February.

“We are very proud to submit these petitions, and we are extremely thankful to the voters who added their signatures and to the volunteers who helped us finish this petition drive,” said Matthew Schweich, campaign director of SDBML. “This campaign was a statewide grassroots effort that involved thousands of South Dakotans.”

Maryland voters in November will also decide on a proposed Constitutional Amendment that asks voters: “Do you favor the legalization of adult–use cannabis in the State of Maryland?”

Additional informations on these campaigns is available from Legal Missouri 2022 and from South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws.

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