Cannabis in South Dakota

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Cannabis in South Dakota is illegal for all purposes, and possession of small amounts is a misdemeanor crime.

Medical cannabis attempts

Ballot initiatives to legalize medical marijuana appeared on the 2006 and 2010 election ballots in South Dakota, but failed both times. The 2006 initiative lost 52%-47%, while the 2010 initiative lost 63%-36%.[1][2] Cannabis activist Emmett Reistroffer commented that the decrease of support in 2010 was due in part to the rise of the Tea Party movement and the presence of an anti-cigarette smoking bill on the same ballot.[3]

As of mid-2015, there is an effort to place yet another ballot initiative on the 2016 election to legalize medical marijuana, but unlike in 2006 and 2010, the Marijuana Policy Project does not anticipate financially supporting the initiative due to strong cannabis campaigns in other states requiring attention for that election.[4]

Decriminalization attempt

In mid-2015, South Dakotans Against Prohibition began circulating petitions put decriminalization of marijuana on the November 2016 ballot, reclassifying possession of once ounce or less a civil, rather than criminal, infraction, and remove penalties for paraphernalia and consumption.[5] However, SDAP failed to gather the 13,871 signatures necessary to place an initiated measure on the ballot[6] and stated it would withdraw its petition.[7]

Recreational legalization on the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe reservation

In mid-2015, the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe, located in eastern South Dakota, stated their intent to begin growing cannabis on one authorized site on their reservation, and commence selling the product on 1 January 2016, following a vote of tribal authorities which decided 5–1 to legalize cannabis.[8] Facing legal uncertainties, the tribe destroyed millions of dollars worth of marijuana on November 7, 2015.[9]


  1. "South Dakota Medical Marijuana, Initiative 4 (2006)".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "South Dakota Medical Marijuana, Initiative 13 (2010)".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "Medical marijuana gains a strategy in S.D." Argus Leader. 23 November 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Seth Tupper Journal staff. "Medical marijuana: a look at ballot's chances of passage in South Dakota". Rapid City Journal.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Kevin Burbach, Associated Press (30 July 2015). "Campaign to ease South Dakota marijuana laws kicks off". Argus Leader.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Kevin Larsen, KCCR Radio (1 Nov 2015). "Campaign To Ease South Dakota Marijuana Law Fails To Reach Required Signatures". KCCR Radio.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Anndrea Anderson (5 Nov 2015). "Ballot Petitions: Some Turned In, Some Still Circulating, One Withdrawn". KDLT TV.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Garcia, Regina (2015-06-17). "South Dakota Indian tribe plans to sell marijuana by Jan. 1". Retrieved 2015-07-12.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "Developing: Santee Sioux Tribe Burning Millions In Marijuana". KELO-TV. 2015-11-07. Retrieved 2015-11-07.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>