South Dakota's top cannabis advocates at odds over marijuana legalization strategy
Ballot question author says alternative measure would create 'wild west' for South Dakota's pot market
A leading cannabis reform advocate and businessman in South Dakota says a proposed ballot measure to legalize marijuana would create a “wild west scenario” if approved next fall.
That’s because the initiated measure circulating since September does not create a regulatory structure for the sale of cannabis and instead relies on the Legislature to come up with any licensing or commerce rules it might deem necessary.
So Emmett Reistroffer — a long-time champion of marijuana legalization who is also operations director for one of the largest medical cannabis companies operating in the state — has filed paperwork with the Secretary of State’s Office for a ballot measure of his own. And, if passed, only medical marijuana stores could then sell pot to the general public.
“I'm optimistic that a majority of South Dakotans support legalization, and it makes sense for adult use to build off the current regulatory program in place for medical cannabis,” he wrote in an email to The Dakota Scout. “That's how my initiative is written and prevents a 'wild west' scenario, keeping local governments in charge of determining zoning requirements and the number of cannabis business licenses available.”
Reistroffer also contends his proposal is less vulnerable to being challenged in court or tinkered with by state lawmakers than the alternative ballot proposal, authored by leaders with South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws. That group’s proposal “would force the Legislature to act,” he said, citing the Attorney General’s ballot measure explanation that cautions that “Judicial or legislative clarification of this measure may be necessary.”