South Dakota Medical Cannabis Campaign Files Lawsuit, Demands Ballot Access
When it comes to medical cannabis reform, South Dakota may not be the first state that comes to mind. To be fair, South Dakota doesn't come to mind for a lot of things.
That's not a knock on South Dakota, but when you have one of the smallest populations in the country, I think it's expected. But what South Dakota lacks in population, it makes up for with passion for reform.
The South Dakota Family Coalition for Compassion has been pushing to get medical cannabis on the 2016 ballot. The organization has been gathering signatures and spreading awareness across South Dakota.
What it takes to get on the ballot in South Dakota
That's not exactly an easy task given how sparse and small the population is in South Dakota. To get an initiative on the ballot in South Dakota, it only takes 13,871 valid signatures.
Compare that to Oregon, which requires 88,184 valid signatures for a statutory initiative, or in Florida where it requires 683,149 valid signatures. South Dakota sounds easy comparitaviley, right? Well, not exactly.
Any veteran signature gatherer who is used to posting up in heavily populated areas to get as many signatures as possible in an efficient manner, will be quick to tell you that an effective effort in South Dakota would be tough.
But, that's what the South Dakota Family Coalition for Compassion did. They hit the pavement and gathered signatures at a great clip. Unfortunately there were problems with the signatures according to the South Dakota Secretary of State Office.
A legal showdown in South Dakota
The South Dakota campaign has cried foul, claiming that the South Dakota Secretary of State didn't have enough evidence to disqualify signatures, and therefore disqualify the measure.
The lawsuit alleges that signatures weren't counted properly, and that 'proper notice wasn't given about the office's results' according to Argus Leader. The lawsuit is demanding ballot access for the initiative.
South Dakota's legal challenge is similar to the legal challenge in Michigan
Battling over signatures is nothing new when it comes to cannabis campaigns. There is another lawsuit pending right now in Michigan dealing with the effort to legalize recreational cannabis there.
MILegalize, filed a lawsuit against the State of Michigan making similar allegations, wherein signatures were improperly disqualified and therefore, ballot access needs to be granted.
In 2012 an initiative in Oregon was brought to a halt after the State of Oregon (then Secretary of State Kate Brown, who is now Oregon's current Governor) made allegations that signatures were improperly gathered for a recreational legalization effort, and even handed down a $65,000 fine against the initiative's Chief Petitioner. The campaign was getting good traction until that happened.
We need as many states voting on reform in 2016 as possible
As it stands right now, there are five states (California, Nevada, Arizona, Maine, Massachusetts) expected to vote on recreational legalization, and hopefully Michigan will be joining them.
Florida and Arkansas' medical cannabis legalization intiatives have been approved for the 2016 ballot, with Missouri expected to join them. It would be amazing to see South Dakota join the fold.
2016 is the biggest election year to date for the cannabis reform movement. We need as many states voting as possible to keep momentum going. One state at a time, until the plant is free.
Should South Dakota voters be allowed to vote on medical cannabis in 2016?