Medical and Recreational Cannabis Ballot Initiatives in South Dakota

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Separate efforts to remove the medical cannabis program and legalize recreational cannabis in South Dakota are proposed to appear on the 2024 ballot.

Medical cannabis was approved in the state in 2020 with nearly 70% of voters in favor after two previous failed ballot measures, and sales of medical cannabis began in July 2022 (1,2). Cannabis for recreational use was also approved at the time, but was subsequently overturned the following year by a state Supreme Court decision (1). In 2022, voters rejected a separate initiative on the ballot (3).

In July 2023, a South Dakotan activist submitted a proposal for a ballot initiative to repeal the state’s recently introduced medical cannabis program (1). The Secretary of the State received a draft of the proposed initiative on July 27th from Attorney General Marty Jackley, and a final summary was submitted on August 14th (3,4). The final summary read (5):

“In the 2020 General Election, the voters approved the creation of the South Dakota medical marijuana program. By approving that program, the voters legalized the possession, use, cultivation, manufacture, and sale of marijuana and marijuana products, under certain conditions, for medical purposes.


This initiated measure repeals South Dakota’s medical marijuana program. If approved, that repeal makes all possession, use, cultivation, manufacture, and sale of marijuana and marijuana products a crime.

This initiated measure does not affect laws dealing with hemp. Marijuana remains illegal under Federal law.”

The final summary included several emails addressed to “ATG Ballot Comments” stating positions for and against the proposed ballot measure (5). The public had been given until August 6th to submit comments (1).

The measure needs more than 17,000 signatures from registered voters to qualify for the 2024 ballot (1).

A few days before submitting this final summary, the Attorney General’s office submitted a draft of an initiative that would put the recreational cannabis on the ballot once again (6). This initiative intends to allow adults over 21 to possess, grow, sell, and distribute cannabis and cannabis products, and claims to not affect laws concerning hemp or the medical cannabis program (6).


  1. Long shot effort to repeal medical marijuana in South Dakota launches (accessed Sep 6, 2023).
  2. Lavin, K. South Dakota voters back medical marijuana legalization (accessed Sep 6, 2023).
  3. Jaeger, K. South Dakota attorney general files draft marijuana legalization initiative title and summary for 2024 ballot (accessed Sep 6, 2023).
  4. (accessed Sep 6, 2023).
  5. (accessed Sep 6, 2023).
  6.,%20Use%20and%20Distri%20of%20Mar.pdf (accessed Sep 6, 2023).