Officials explain their reasons for being on separate sides of this year’s recreational marijuana measure

Recreational MarijuanaRAPID CITY, S.D.– There are just under two weeks left to cast your ballots in the November election, and the legalization of recreational marijuana continues to be a heated topic. Officials on both sides of the measure offer their opinions.

Recreational marijuana’s last appearance on a South Dakota ballot

The last time the topic was on voters’ ballots was in 2020, combined with voting on medical marijuana use in the state. The constitutional amendment received 56 percent of total votes, but the amendment went on to be voided by the State Supreme Court in 2021. Officials made the decision on the ground of it containing multiple subjects.

What the legalization of recreational marijuana will mean for South Dakotans

Should South Dakotans once again vote in approval, residents across the state will be able to carry up to an ounce of recreational cannabis on them and grow up to three plants in their homes if they do not live in an area where a licensed marijuana store is available. The measure also allows for six per private property, but all plants must be stored in a locked area and out of sight.

How opponents see the measure

“It’s not comparable to many other things that people use to enhance their lives. This is something that compromises everyone,” Mayor Steve Allender of Rapid City said on Wednesday during a panel discussion with other city and regional leaders against the measure.

Three main points were highlighted during the discussion:

  • Our kids will pay the price. We need look no further than Colorado to see how legal marijuana filters to and negatively impacts children.
  • Our jails and prisons are NOT filled with people convicted of using marijuana.
  • Proponents allege there will be a windfall in tax dollars, but for every dollar collected, it costs the taxpayer $4.50 in societal impact costs.

“This isn’t just about possessing a little bit of marijuana. This is about access to a large amount of marijuana for people,” Sheriff-Elect of Meade County Pat West added. “We are here because we’re worried about our kids and our community. And I believe this whole item 27 is about money and pushing marijuana into our community. And it is going to be a train wreck.”

How proponents stand on the measure

Proponents see the measure passing as a means of better handling and monitoring cannabis, with more regulations in place to make sure.

“It makes more sense to legalize it for adults 21 and over to control cannabis,” Campaign Manager for the Yes on 27 campaign Matthew Schweich said. “Put it into a regulated system where it’s being sold by licensed taxpaying businesses and not being sold by dealers who do not check ID, who cannot guarantee product safety and will often be selling other substances.”

When the decision will be made

The decision on legalization will be finalized on November 8, once all of the votes have been counted.

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