The deadline for submission of signatures to legalize medical cannabis in South Dakota in the 2020 elections is already very close
A group of activists advocating to legalize medical cannabis in South Dakota has until October 31 to get enough signatures required for the legalization measure in South Dakota to enter the 2020 ballot box. Currently, South Dakota has the toughest laws regarding marijuana and possession of even a small amount of cannabis implies one-year prison sentence and a $ 2,000 fine.
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Activists in favor of the legalization of cannabis in South Dakota have until October 31 to collect enough signatures for the legalization of medical cannabis to appear at the polls of the 2020 elections. Melissa Mentele, director of the New Approach South Dakota group , is leading the task of collecting signatures, tired of the state having some of the strictest cannabis laws in the country. Melissa Mentele believes that South Dakota residents should have the right to manage their own health without having to rely on medicines from the pharmaceutical industry. Mentele says that South Dakota residents are prepared for medical cannabis and that they are demanding an alternative to opiates. South Dakota and the entire country has experienced an epidemic of prescription opioid deaths, such as fentanyl, in this past year, and people begin to understand that it is not possible to live with chronic pain and medications for the rest of their lives.
Another group of cannabis advocates is also collecting signatures for the legalization of medical cannabis and cannabis for adult recreational use. If they get enough signatures they could amend the state constitution to legalize marijuana and hemp. The governor of South Dakota has stated that she believes that the legalization of marijuana in other states will eventually fail and vetoed a bill earlier this year that would have allowed farmers to grow hemp for industrial purposes.
This is the third time that Mentele tries to include medical marijuana in the urn. New Approach South Dakota only needs 17,000 signatures. But Melissa Mentele is trying to get at least 30,000 after the state invalidated thousands of signatures in previous attempts. Mentele explains to the media that she started using cannabis six years ago, after an injury left her disabled. Mentele says that when during her first legislative session she raised the legalization of medical cannabis in South Dakota, the supporters of the ban insulted her and told her she was a jerk who just wanted to smoke weed. Therefore, she says South Daakota wants to legalize medical cannabis.
Mentele is outraged and says she needs cannabis oil that works really well to relieve the terrible pain she suffers. A recent study by the FBI shows that almost 15% of the more than 63,000 arrests in South Dakota in 2017 were for crimes related to drugs in general and cannabis in particular. That made South Dakota the nation’s leader in the number of drug arrests in 2017.
Citizens who want to legalize cannabis in South Dakota have frustrated all their attempts to legalize, not only medical cannabis but also industrial hemp. But the number of supporters of legalizing cannabis is doubling in this year’s elections. Volunteers are gathering signatures for two voting measures to legalize cannabis in South Dakota.
One group of activists asks voters to approve medical marijuana and another wants to legalize recreational marijuana. Supporters of cannabis legalization already tried with the same approach to enter the law in the ballot box of 2018, but did not get enough signatures. Melissa Mentele and those who try to get signatures to legalize medical cannabis in South Dakota say that people’s mentality towards medical cannabis has changed a lot. Melissa says that the organizers this time have the financial support of Marijuana Policy Project, one of the two national non-profit organizations that work on the measure. The other is New Approach South Dakota, an organization that historically has not had many funds to campaign but has done a lot of social awareness work.