Ballot Initiatives in South Dakota – what are they?

August 26, 2020

Written By: Anna Hays

Posted In: Advocacy

Ballot initiatives are a way for citizens of South Dakota to initiate legislation without being an elected legislator. The South Dakota State Legislature may also place measures on the ballot with a majority vote of each chamber.

For 2020, a total of 33,921 signatures were required for initiated constitutional amendments and 16,961 signatures were required for initiated statutes and veto referendums.

Proponents of these measures could circulate petitions for up to one year and the necessary signatures had to be filed at least one year prior to the election. The signature deadline for initiatives targeting the 2020 ballot was November 3, 2019.

Initiatives you’ll see on your November 3 ballot:

Initiated Measure 26 (IM-26) provides for a medical marijuana program in South Dakota.

If this measure is APPROVED, the State would allow the use of marijuana for medical purposes and allow those that have been authorized by a physician to have access to limited products designed to help with selected medical conditions. What else you should know:

  • This measure legalizes medical use of marijuana by qualifying patients, including minors.
  • "Medical use" includes the use, delivery, manufacture and cultivation (State residents only) of marijuana and marijuana-based products to treat or alleviate debilitating medical conditions certified by the patients' practitioners.
  • South Dakota patients must obtain a registration card from the State Department of Health.
  • The measure legalizes marijuana testing, manufacturing, and cultivation facilities, as well as marijuana dispensaries.
  • Marijuana remains illegal under Federal law.

Constitutional Amendment A legalizes recreational use of marijuana and requires the legislature to pass laws providing for the use of medical marijuana and the sale of hemp by April 1, 2022.

If this amendment is APPROVED, the South Dakota Constitution will be amended to legalize recreational marijuana for use by anyone 21 years of age or older. What else you should know:

  • Legalizes the possession, use, transport, and distribution of marijuana and marijuana paraphernalia by people age 21 and older.
  • The State Department of Revenue will issue marijuana-related licenses for commercial cultivators and manufacturers, testing facilities, wholesalers, and retailers.
  • Local governments may regulate or ban the establishment of licensees within their jurisdictions.
  • Does not legalize hemp; it requires the Legislature to pass laws regulating the cultivation, processing, and sale of hemp.
  • Imposes a 15% tax on marijuana sales.
  • The tax revenue will be used for costs incurred in implementing this amendment, with remaining revenue equally divided between the support of public schools and the State general fund.
  • Marijuana remains illegal under Federal law.

Constitutional Amendment B legalizes sports betting in Deadwood and requires that net local revenue from such activity be dedicated to the Historic Restoration and Preservation of Deadwood.

If this amendment is APPROVED, the South Dakota Constitution will be amended to authorize the South Dakota State Legislature to legalize sports betting within the city limits of Deadwood.

What else you should know:

  • Under Federal law, any gaming authorized by the Legislature to be offered in Deadwood would also be allowed at on-reservation tribal casinos upon amendments to current tribal gaming compacts.

For more information on the General Election Ballot initiatives, visit the Secretary of State’s office website at

Voting Dates to Know:

  • Date of South Dakota's 2020 General Election - November 3, 2020
  • Voter registration deadline - October 19, 2020
  • Absentee voting begins - September 18, 2020