However, on the other hand, it also revealed that recreational cannabis is only favored by a small margin of voters, and could pass, but in an extremely tight race.
The poll, which was conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy, reveals that the amount of support for Measure 26, the measure to legalize cannabis, is three out of four legal voters. If passed, Measure 26 would establish a medical cannabis program that would help patients with serious cannabis problems get relief under strict guidance of medical professionals. Patients with doctors’ notes will be able to register for the program. If legalized, medical cannabis would be overseen by the Department of Health.
However, Amendment A, which would legalize recreational cannabis entirely in South Dakota, only passed the survey by 51 percent, while 73 percent of democrats said they would vote yes on the amendment, only 34 percent of Republicans back it.
“Treating marijuana as a criminal justice issue has led to thousands of needless arrests and a flourishing underground market that distracts police officers from more important public safety concerns,” the language explaining Amendment A to voters states “At the same time, veterans and other people with serious health conditions are denied compassion and access to a treatment that could alleviate their suffering. We crafted our initiatives to address the harms stemming from our current approach.”
The results reflect what has been seen in other states. While medical cannabis is gaining more and more acceptance from conservatives, recreational cannabis is still a partisan issue. While medical cannabis is becoming normalized by the popularity of CBD and the good it can do for the sick, recreational cannabis is still seen as taboo by some.
South Dakota’s Current Relationship With Pot
Currently, South Dakota has some of the harshest cannabis laws out there. Possession of any amount is still considered a misdemeanor and can carry up to a year in prison, or at least a fine and a permanent record. While other states continue to loosen their laws, decriminalizing small amounts of cannabis and legalizing medical cannabis, South Dakota still hangs on to their strict laws.
This is a concern to many, as South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Law compiled data saying that 95 percent of drug arrests were reportedly from cannabis. Additionally, according to the ACLU, Black South Dakota residents are five times more likely than their white peers to be arrested for cannabis use.
So far, cannabis reform has stalled in the state, as Governor, Kristi Noem, a republican, opposes both recreational and medical reform. She has even gone so far as to record an ad warning about the perceived dangers of legalization.
Based on the data so far, recreational cannabis will have to wait until a later date, but medical cannabis has a good chance of passing and becoming a reality. However, as previous elections years have shown, nothing is guaranteed.