Voters in South Dakota will decide Nov. 8 if their state will be the 20th in the nation to legalize cannabis. But right now, it is not clear whether they will need a simple majority of votes — over 50% — or a 60% margin to pass the initiative.
That is because next week, according to The Hill, as South Dakotans head to the polls for the primary election on Tuesday, they will vote on Amendment C, which offers a change to the state's constitution requiring most ballot measures to have a 60% margin of the vote to pass.
Amendment C, which passed the state Legislature this year and is up for a vote next week, singles out ballot measures that raise taxes and fees or require the spending of more than $10 million over five fiscal years. But essentially, the proposed amendment would put South Dakota among the handful of states requiring a threshold greater than 60% in order to pass certain initiatives.
Republican state Rep. Tim Goodwin, one of the amendment's main sponsors, argues that "this will make it harder for outside special interest groups to raise our fees and taxes using ballot measures. "Thus making it harder to grow government through ballot measures."
Because the legal marijuana initiative would create a certain amount of new taxes on the product it seeks to legalize and regulate, it would fall under the provisions listed in Amendment C, thus requiring a 60% vote.
But to Matthew Schweich, who runs South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws: "Amendment C is a disgraceful sneak attack on the constitutional ballot initiative rights of the people of South Dakota. Placing this type of constitutional amendment on a primary ballot is completely indefensible."
"The political establishment," Schweich added, "is trying to mislead voters by telling them that Amendment C is about taxes. It's not about taxes. It's about politicians trying to control the voice of the people."
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