Recreational Cannabis Will Be on South Dakota’s November Ballot

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For the third time in recent years, the option to legalize recreational cannabis will be placed before voters in the Mount Rushmore State.

On June 3, 2024, Measure 29 was approved by the Secretary of State Monae Johnson and will appear on the ballot in November (1,2). If passed by voters, cannabis would be legal for adults 21 years old and older for possession of up to two ounces of flower and 16 grams of concentrates (2). Additionally, private cultivation of up to six plants would be allowed (3). The Measure does not establish regulations for commercial sales or production of cannabis, though supporters of the Measure reportedly will collaborate with the Legislature to create the necessary regulations (1,3).

The initiative had been submitted by South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws, which is “a nonprofit political organization founded in 2019 that works to reform cannabis laws in South Dakota,” according to their website (4). The initiative review process began in December 2022, after the organization submitted the initiative with the Director of the South Dakota Legislative Research Council, then the second phase of review began in June 2023 once the initiative was filed with South Dakota Attorney General, South Dakota Secretary of State, and the Director of the South Dakota Legislative Research Council (4). In September 2023, it was approved for circulation (4).

Though cannabis for medical uses has been legal under certain circumstances since 2020 (5), recreational cannabis legalization has been on the ballot in the state two times in the past few years, both times failing to be fully passed or approved (1,3):


  • In 2020, voters approved the legalization of recreational cannabis, but the state’s Supreme Court later overturned the law, citing the “single subject rule.”
  • In 2022, voters rejected legalizing recreational cannabis.

In comparison, cannabis for medical purposes has also experienced a rocky journey. 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 (4). In July 2023, a South Dakotan activist submitted a proposal for a ballot initiative to repeal the state’s medical cannabis program (4).

The efforts to place recreational cannabis on the ballot has resulted in differing opinions.

Jim Kinyon, chairperson of the nonprofit Protecting South Dakota Kids, stated in an AP article covering the Measure 29 (1): “How many times does the state of South Dakota need to reject recreational marijuana before the industry will accept the decision of the state’s citizens? I expect that the industry will triple down on their money to try and sway and disuade voters.”

Zebadiah Johnson, campaign director supporting the legalization of cannabis, stated (1): “We firmly believe that South Dakotans deserve to make their own choices on how they live their lives, including the freedom to responsibly use cannabis.” Additionally, supporters from South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws believe that a presidential election year will result in higher voter turnout (3).

Recreational cannabis will also be on ballot in Florida this November, the initiative having been approved by the state’s Supreme Court in April 2024 (6). There, the proposed constitutional amendment will need approval from at least 60% of voters (6).


  1. Dura, J., Ballentine, S. 3rd try at approving recreational marijuana in South Dakota makes the ballot, (accessed June 5, 2024).
  2. FOURTH BALLOT QUESTION VALIDATED FOR 2024 GENERAL ELECTION, South Dakota Secretary of State, June 3, 2024 (accessed June 5, 2024).
  3. NORML, South Dakota: Voters Will Decide on Marijuana Possession Measure This Fall, (accessed June 5, 2024).
  4. South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws (accessed June 5, 2024).
  5. McEvoy, E. Medical and Recreational Cannabis Ballot Initiatives in South Dakota (accessed June 5, 2024).
  6. McEvoy, E., Cannabis Legislation Updates from Florida, Virginia, and Kansas (accessed June 5, 2024).