Can green win in red South Dakota? Perhaps the state isn’t as red as it seems.
By Phil Smith, StoptheDrugWar.org
Marijuana is on the ballot in South Dakota this year. This is a state that has the dubious distinction of being the only one to twice defeat a medical marijuana initiative. And it has another dubious distinction: It’s the only state where people get prosecuted for having marijuana show up on a drug test.
That South Dakota has reactionary drug laws is not surprising; it is a pretty reactionary state. It voted overwhelmingly for Trump in 2016, and Republican Gov. Kristi Noem has (in)famously discussed adding the president’s likeness to Mt. Rushmore with him. The state’s congressional delegation is all-GOP, including Senate Majority Whip John Thune, and Republicans control both houses of the legislature as well, holding a supermajority in both for nearly a quarter-century.
Still, not one but two marijuana initiatives managed to find enough support to make the ballot, and local organizers supported by national reform groups New Approach PAC and the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) are hoping that marijuana’s momentum can overcome rock-ribbed Republican recalcitrance on the prairie come November.
The first, Initiated Measure 26, led by New Approach South Dakota, would create a medical marijuana program for patients with doctor-certified specified debilitating medical conditions. Patients could possess up to three ounces and grow up to three plants — or more if a doctor okays it. The state Department of Health would create and enforce rules and regulations.
The second, Constitutional Amendment A, would legalize up to an ounce for adults 21 and over and set up a system of taxed and regulated cultivation and sales. It would allow people to grow up to three plants at home — but only if there are no retail sales outlets in their local government jurisdiction.