SD Could Be Political ‘Test State’ For Implementing Marijuana Changes

This fall, South Dakota became the first state to endorse two marijuana ballot questions in the same election. However, there are still deep divisions over whether to move forward on legalizing the drug. (Adobe Stock)

This fall, South Dakota became the first state to endorse two marijuana ballot questions in the same election. However, there are still deep divisions over whether to move forward on legalizing the drug. (Adobe Stock)

December 8, 2020

PIERRE, S.D. — Questions remain about the future of recreational marijuana in South Dakota despite a constitutional amendment approved by voters. With Republicans still opposed, a political expert says their response might signal how other “red” states will deal with future scenarios.

In November, 53% of South Dakota voters endorsed legalizing marijuana for those 21 and older. Dave Wiltse, a political scientist at South Dakota State, said despite passage, the state still is very conservative. And with some law enforcement challenging the result in court, and GOP Gov. Kristi Noem remaining firmly opposed, Wiltse said if they can’t stop it, they might try other ways to limit access.

“We could see really high licensing fees, we could see high regulation of this industry to the point that it might be prohibitive for someone to enter it,” Wiltse said.

He suggested this approach might happen if other red states see marijuana proposals pass. A similar situation is playing out in neighboring Montana, which also passed a legalization ballot question.

As for denying the will of the voters, Wiltse noted there is precedent, when state lawmakers…

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