420 with CNW – Marijuana Legalization Takes a Step Forward in South Dakota

August 19, 2019 15:20:07

South Dakota is one of the few states in the U.S. that hasn’t legalized marijuana for either recreational or medicinal use. However, this may change if the recent flurry of activity to certify legalization measures eventually bears fruit on voting day in 2020. One particular ballot measure has recently earned an official explanation written by the state’s attorney general.

This measure is a rather ambitious one because it seeks to legalize medical marijuana, recreational marijuana and industrial hemp, all in one fell swoop.

The recreational use of marijuana would be legalized through an amendment to the state constitution while the state legislature would be mandated to debate and pass laws regulating medical marijuana and hemp.

In his explanation of the measure, Jason Ravnsborg, the South Dakota Attorney General, wrote that the measure seeks to legalize the use, possession, transport and distribution of cannabis by adults who are 21 years old or older. He added that cannabis plants and products produced from those plants may also be permitted under clearly defined circumstances.

Additionally, the department of revenue in the state would issue licenses to businesses that wished to cultivate, manufacture, test or distribute marijuana. Local authorities may opt out of allowing marijuana businesses to operate within their jurisdictions, according to the ballot initiative.

The AG’s explanation also emphasizes that the marijuana measure doesn’t make industrial hemp legal. Hemp can only be legalized once the legislature enacts an enabling law.

The initiative proposes that an excise tax of 15 percent should be levied on all sales of marijuana. This revenue will be used to fund the activities related to regulating the marijuana industry, and what remains will go to education and the general fund from which other state activities or programs are funded.

This explanation is similar to the one that the AG issued with respect to another proposed amendment to legalize medical cannabis in South Dakota.

The attorney general’s office also revealed that a few more measures are awaiting certification by his office. For any of those measures to make it onto the state ballot, the activists behind it must gather at least 33,921 verifiable signatures from voters in the state.

For now, it isn’t yet clear whether the campaigners will rally around one initiative rather than each group of advocates going it alone. Industry experts believe that it would be in the interest of the entire cannabis industry, including players like Lexaria Bioscience Corp. (CSE: LXX) (OTCQX: LXRP) and Marijuana Company of America Inc. (OTCQB: MCOA), to combine forces and promote one initiative so that the chances of success can be increased in this largely conservative state.

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