SIOUX FALLS, SD (KELO) — It’s crunch time for petitioners trying to get recreational marijuana on the South Dakota ballot this fall. The group pushing for legalization says it’s still shy of the required number of signatures it needs by early next week. But organizers are hoping this weekend will push them over the top, with plenty of signatures to spare.
The group, South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws, has to turn in their petitions to the secretary of state’s office by the end of the workday on Tuesday. They’ll host more drive-through signing events this weekend across the state with the hope of reaching and surpassing the threshold of nearly 17-thousand signatures. But rain in the forecast could become the latest challenge in reaching their goal.
Bobbi Walton of Sioux Falls became emotional when she shared how signing her name to the petition calling for the legalization of recreational marijuana gave her a sense of empowerment.
“I’m strong. Excuse me. People that really need this shouldn’t have to go through this. It’s important,” Walton said.
Walton says she doesn’t use cannabis herself and is frustrated that another petition drive has to take place even after South Dakota voters approved legalization in 2020. The amendment was overturned by the state supreme court over its language.
“I think it’s terrible that we have to go through this in the first place. Why are we having to go through more signatures and petitions? It should have been taken care of,” Walton said.
Petitioners say confusion over the legal status of cannabis hindered their collecting signatures early on.
“But over time, we got the message out that we need to put this back on the ballot, we need to restore the will of the people,” Matthew Schweich of South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws said.
Just like everyone else, the petition organizers will be watching the weather, hoping that weekend rain in the forecast won’t dampen efforts to collect more signatures.
“Whenever you’re working on a signature drive, you’re worried about the weather. It certainly affects circulating and any extreme weather could impact our transportation plan, but for now, it looks like we’re going to be okay,” Schweich said.
Schweich wants to collect a buffer of thousands of extra signatures to ensure they have more than enough valid petitions to turn in. Walton, who was unaware of the upcoming deadline, is urging others to sign their names before it’s too late.
“I’m hoping the people will stand strong, together,” Walton said.
South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws will be hosting drive-through petition signings in Sioux Falls, Aberdeen and Rapid City Saturday and Sunday. Then, they’ll gather all the petitions at their Sioux Falls headquarters Sunday night before taking them to Pierre.