South Dakota voters reject recreational marijuana

Cannabis buds ready for harvest are seen at Dakota Natural Solutions Grow on Monday, July 25, 2022, in Wessington, SD.
Cannabis buds ready for harvest are seen at Dakota Natural Solutions Grow on Monday, July 25, 2022, in Wessington, SD.

Voters in South Dakota rejected Initiated Measure 27, a bill that would’ve legalized the possession, use and distribution of recreational marijuana by people 21 years or older.

With 99% of precincts counted, 53% of voters rejected recreational marijuana.

The initiated measure would have legalized the possession, use and distribution of marijuana and marijuana paraphernalia by people 21 years or older.

It was the second time a bill that would legalize recreational marijuana appeared on South Dakota voters’ ballots. In the 2020 Election, voters passed Amendment A with 54% of the majority.

This time around, that wasn't the case. There were eight counties that voted in favor of the measure, including Brookings, Buffalo, Clay, Dewey, Oglala Lakota, Minnehaha, Todd and Ziebach.

Protecting South Dakota Kids was a major opponent to Initiated Measure 27, and throughout the election process, argued that areas that have legalized marijuana have seen an increase in opioid fatalities.

"We're continuing to pray that that result holds and that more people of faith come together to do what's good for our state because this is a resounding no to recreational marijuana and a resounding yes for the health and well-being of our communities," Protecting South Dakota Kids Committee Chair Jim Kinyon said.

As results trickled in on Tuesday night, Kinyon compared the initiated measure to "putting lipstick on a pig."

More:South Dakota has a second chance to legalize recreational marijuana. What does it mean?

"We've had a lot of people ... say that (legalized marijuana) is going to make us wealthy, or that it's going to make us well, and I just keep asking the same question: 'When has the sale of any illegal drug done that?'" Kinyon said. "That's a lot of lipstick on a pig. And the good news is, in South Dakota most of us know what a pig looks like, and we know what one smells like."

South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws were behind the proponents of the bill and wanted to "restore the will of the people," referring to the 2020 Election when the amendment was eventually shot down due to a violation on the single-subject rule.

Hopes were to have 2020's result replicated on Tuesday night, but it didn't pan out.

Representatives for South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws were unavailable for comment.

South Dakota was one of five states where voters cast their ballots for legal recreational marijuana on Tuesday, including Arkansas, North Dakota, Maryland and Missouri.Maryland overwhelmingly passed its measure, and it also passed in Missouri. Arkansas and North Dakota voters rejected the legal marijuana bills.

Before Tuesday, there were 19 states, two territories and Washington D.C. that had passed legal recreational marijuana bills.

Polls split leading up to the election

Polling up to the election varied. In the SDSU poll, findings indicated that 47% of the South Dakota population opposed the measure, while 45% were in support. Eight percent were undecided in that poll.

In late July, South Dakota News Watch released a poll conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy of Florida. That poll was made up of 500 registered voters  – with 54.4% opposing legalization.

This article originally appeared on Sioux Falls Argus Leader: South Dakota voters appear to reject IM 27 recreational marijuana bill