Marijuana Legalization Bill Typo Will Not Actually Legalize Marijuana

For the past four months, marijuana advocacy groups around South Dakota have been collecting signatures for a 2018 ballot initiative that will legalize recreational cannabis. Unfortunately there's one issue with South Dakota's marijuana legalization measure: It won't legalize marijuana.

According to a state official, the way the initiative is worded, it will only legalize marijuana paraphernalia and not the actual drug. The Argus Leader notes that in the ballot initiative, the section about legalizing paraphernalia says, "is not unlawful under the law of the state or the subdivision," while the section about legalizing marijuana only mentions "subdivision," not the state. Therefore, the initiative would only legalize paraphernalia in South Dakota, not marijuana itself.

Advocates for the ballot initiative say the typo isn't a big deal, and that if it were to pass, the legislature or courts would be able to fix the language to allow legalization in the state. But the state's Legislative Research Council says that its reading of the bill says it would only allow for paraphernalia legalization, and that state authorities could still arrest people for possession of marijuana.

Marijuana advocates can change the wording of the ballot initiative by submitting an amended proposal. Unfortunately, all previous signatures would be voided and they'd have to collect more signatures. Under South Dakota law, initiatives need 14,000 signatures to be considered during elections. 

This will certainly go down as one of the worst typos in American history.


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