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Opponents of latest AR state tax cuts say they benefit wealthy Arkansans; Julian Assange agrees to a plea deal that would allow him to avoid imprisonment in US; Tech-based carbon-capture projects make headway in local government; NV nonprofit calls Biden's student debt initiatives economic justice.

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Charges against fake electors in Nevada are dismissed, Milwaukee officials get ready to expect the unexpected at the RNC convention, and the Justice Department says Alaska is violating the Americans with Disabilities Act.

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A Minnesota town claims the oldest rural Pride Festival while rural educators say they need support to teach kids social issues, rural businesses can suffer when dollar stores come to town and prairie states like South Dakota are getting help to protect grasslands.

SD Makes History With Marijuana Ballot Questions

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Thursday, November 5, 2020   

PIERRE, S.D. -- South Dakota has become the first state to endorse two marijuana ballot questions in the same election. Supporters now hope state leaders get behind the next steps.

On Tuesday, a majority of voters in South Dakota approved recreational marijuana for adults, and to make medical marijuana accessible in the state.

The constitutional amendment authorizes the Department of Revenue to issue licenses for related businesses.

It also requires the Legislature to pass laws regarding medical use of the drug.

Drey Samuelson, campaign manager for South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws, said he hopes strong opposition from state leaders won't get in the way of implementation.

"Our constitution gives us the power of ballot initiatives," Samuelson explained. "And if the governor and the Legislature don't listen to us, we have the power to make political change without them."

Gov. Kristi Noem has been outspoken in her opposition to both initiatives, citing the effect legalization could have on families.

Leading up this week's election, various polls in South Dakota had indicated public support for both recreational and medical marijuana.

Paul Armentano, deputy director for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), said legalization would bring about more fairness in the criminal justice system in states such as South Dakota, which has strict drug possession laws. And he noted it would put less strain on law enforcement.

"One out of every ten arrests in the state of South Dakota was for marijuana," Armentano observed.

According to the ACLU, Black people in South Dakota are five times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than White people.

Prior to the election, nearly a dozen states allowed recreational marijuana, and more than 30 had medical cannabis programs.


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