Two marijuana-related issues on South Dakota November ballot
RAPID CITY, S.D. — There are not one, but two, marijuana related issues on the ballot in South Dakota this November, and while advocacy groups are busy making their case for legalization, state officials are coming out against some of the proposals as the vote nears.
Amendment A would legalize the recreational use of marijuana for individuals 21 and older. It would also require the South Dakota state legislature to pass laws providing for a program for medical marijuana and hemp sales by April 2022.
State officials are not against legalizing the use of medical marijuana, but believe Amendment A would be damaging for the state and youth.
“Amendment A has very little to do with medical, it is a recreational marijuana amendment to our constitution,” said President of the South Dakota Chamber of Commerce and Industry, David Owen. “Other states have seen an increase in youth usage, accidental poisoning with kids because they put THC in things like gummy bears. Increased accidents and fatalities with people that are under the influence of marijuana, and finally this doesn’t belong in the constitution”
Initiated Measure 26, or IM26, has been offered as an alternative. It would permit the use of just medical marijuana, and patients could be registered to grow the plant at home. Still, officials do not agree with full legalization just for the sake of decriminalization.
“You could decriminalize marijuana if you’re convinced people that people oughta have some access without driving up legal costs, you don’t need to put it in the constitution and you don’t need to make it completely legal,” said Owen.
The other concern for law enforcement and state officials is the possibility of increased marijuana use leading to experimentation with stronger drugs.
“I do not think that everybody that uses marijuana will use a heavier drug,” said Capt. Tony Harrison of the Pennington County Sheriff’s Office. “I know that everybody who uses a heavier drug started with marijuana, and tobacco and alcohol. So we’ve already got two gateway drugs, and everybody will tell you that, well alcohol and tobacco are more dangerous, but why add a third one to the mixer.”
If passed, Amendment A would make South Dakota the 12th state to legalize recreational marijuana.