SD Woman Recognized In The Cannabis Industry

EMERY, S.D. – Two proposed ballot measures in the works aim to legalize marijuana in the state of South Dakota.

The sponsor of both bills is the director of New Approach South Dakota.

She’s not only making a name for herself here, she’s also been recently recognized on a national level.

“I started scrolling up and I saw my picture and I thought, holy smokes!”

It was news to Melissa Mentele herself when she found out Leafly, an elite nation-wide cannabis news and information website, named her one of the eight leading women in the cannabis industry.

“Then I cried a little bit, but I think it’s really cool,” says Mentele.

The article applauds Mentle’s efforts in advocating for cannabis legalization in South Dakota, and the recent success of passing S.B. 95, a bill that allows those with epilepsy to use cannabidiol if it receives FDA approval.

“It’s vindication that we are doing something important, people are seeing that and we’re just going to continue moving forward,” says Mentele.

Mentele says she’s going to use the bill’s passage and her national recognition as extra motivation for New Approach South Dakota’s next fight: two new initiatives they’re hoping will land on the 2018 November ballot.

One would legalize medical marijuana and the other would legalize recreational marijuana.

“Cannabis is a $6 billion industry,” says Mentele. “South Dakota is missing out, and if we come in on this at the tail end of it we are going to lose all that opportunity.”

For the recreational bill, there would be some restrictions.

To use marijuana you would have to be at least 21 years old, you could only carry one ounce and if you wanted to grow, you would have to grow at least 6 plants.

Melissa says if this bill passes, it could create a lot of jobs and revenue for the state of South Dakota.

“We definitely need to focus on making sure that we do it the right way,” says Mentele. “Let’s get our farmers involved, get our universities involved, get our hospitals involved and move forward with something that is really strong and do something that other states haven’t.”

Mentele says if recreational use passes, 40 percent of the revenue would go toward the South Dakota Department of Education to help increase teacher pay.

New Approach South Dakota still needs to collect 14,000 signatures for each ballot measure by November 6th of this year to get the two initiated measures on next year’s ballot.

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