The Marijuana Debate on Wheather to Legalize or Not - Provides Mixed Opinions

Regardless of your stance on the narijuana debate, past votes show the majority of the state is very mixed on whether to legalize or not to legalize.

What does the Meade County Public Vote, held on August 30th mean for the upcoming November Election to fully legalize marijuana in South Dakota?

Up for Public Vote was a measure to expand Medical Marijuana Dispensaries across the County itself, of which the county adopted an ordinance which allows for only one dispensary

"Last year, the Meade County Commission passed Ordinance 53 concerning the issuance of new medical cannabis establishment licenses and determined they would consider all qualified applications in the order they were received, but only award one medical marijuana dispensary license at cost of $125,000...That was done and awarded to Puffy’s LLC who will do business on Highway 79 just north of its intersection with Highway 34."

Deb Holland, Black Hills Pioneer

On July 5 of this year, the Meade County Auditor’s Office received an initiative petition containing the required 1,009 signatures asking to amend the county’s ordinance on medical cannabis establishments. Of which, the petitioners were asking to amend the county’s ordinance and award three dispensary licenses as well as three licenses for cultivation facilities, three for cannabis testing facilities and three for cannabis product manufacturing facilities. The county’s original ordinance didn’t offer any licenses for cultivation, testing or product manufacturing.

The drafted proposal would have amended the Meade County ordinance by changing the distance between businesses, by allowing 3 dispensaries (rather than one), while allowing for at least 3 establishments each regarding Cultivation, Manufacturing, Testing Facilities.

On August 30th - the voters went to the polls, voting 1,426 to 719 to not expand upon the number of establishments, let alone the changes to distance between them. A total number of 2,145 ballots were requested, and received, of which the number of registered voters within the county as reported by the South Dakota Secretary of State as of August 1st, was 19,610 of which shows a 10.9% voter turnout on the issue itself.

The Meade County Vote may present a clear and present opinion of how the majority of the citizens of the State may feel regarding the topic of Marijuana itself, Whether you support full legalization or not, what is clearly evident, that there seems to be a stark contrast in full legalization versus simply permitting people to to use the plant for medical purposes. While 54% of the voters approved of Amendment A back in 2020, what is evident, is when you analyze the county vote, nearly 62.1% of all 66 South Dakota Counties overwhelmingly voted against adopting Amendment A.

In the Forty-One Counties of which voted collectively not to legalize Marijuana, the results showed that 60% of all voters who showed up, voted against legalization of Marijuana in its entirety within those counties. While in contrast, on the matter of Medical Marijuana, allowing a small, select few citizens the permission to utilize marijuana for medical purposes, 67.3% of the counties collectively voted to approve of the measure.

South Dakotans seem to be very complex on the issue of Marijuana itself - on one hand, they approve of using it as a 'medical drug', but on the other hand, they disapprove of allowing for recreational use.

Where do we stand today, according to the South Dakota Secretary of State, there are 587,037 registered voters in the state, of which 132,849 registered voters reside within the 41 counties of which all voted against Amendment A a few years ago. To compare that to the six most populated counties of the State - Minnehaha 128,355 voters, Pennington 84,479 voters, Lincoln 43,075 voters, Brown 24,362 voters, Brookings 19,900 voters, and Codington 17,456 voters, clearly - of the twenty-one counties who all voted "yes" on Amendment A, they have a clear and present majority of registered voters @ 454,188

It does not take a scientist to determine where many of the Petitioned Signatures derive from during nominating petitions to get ballot questions on the ballot ahead of the November 2022 Election.

If history can provide any evidence as to how many 'voters' will show up on November 8, 2022, we can predict at least 62.5% of the voters, or 366,898 will vote in our Midterm Elections.

A far greater percentage of voters clearly show up to vote in the rural counties, that is obvious by the closeness of that 'vote' during the 2020 results on Amendment A, cause in 21 Counties, of which most likely support full legalization of marijuana, they have the numbers, but practically got out voted by the other 45 Counties, which kept the results as close as they were.

Knowing that in those 41 counties, 60% of all voters who did vote, all voted No on Amendment A, while in the 21 counties who voted in favor of Amendment A, that popular vote was at 57% per county.

The "swing counties" on the issue of Marijuana tend to be Codington, Fall River, Hughes, Lake County, Lyman, Meade, Moody, Beadle, Day, and Jackson - all of which the results were more 50-50. So that narrows possible "YES" counties 14, as compared to 38 for the counties where voters clearly voted against legalization of Marijuana.

Will the "Voters" vote to adopt Initiated Measure 27 in November? Well, of the 366,898 voters who are estimated to show up on November 7th - there is quite the contrast between the Rural Counties and Urban Counties. It is clear, a greater percentage of voters tend to show up in the rural areas, than they do in the more populated areas. In a Mid-Term Election, with a much lower turn out, we may see an entirely different result on Marijuana for 2022. Regardless of which side of the whole marijuana debate you may be on, what is very evident, is the overall population of the state is very mixed on its viewpoints of marijuana.