South Dakota’s Adult-Use Cannabis Legalization Measure Could Fail, Poll Shows
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South Dakota’s Adult-Use Cannabis Legalization Measure Could Fail, Poll Shows

A legalization initiative that will appear on the state’s November ballot may not have the support it needs to pass, according to a statewide poll conducted last month.

August 31, 2022

A poll conducted in South Dakota last month shows that an adult-use cannabis legalization measure that’s slated to appear on the state’s November ballot may not have the support it needs to pass.

The statewide poll of 500 registered voters revealed that 43.8% of respondents support adult-use cannabis legalization, while 54.4% expressed opposition to the issue, according to the Argus Leader.

Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy of Florida conducted the poll, which was commissioned by South Dakota News Watch and the Chiesman Center for Democracy at the University of South Dakota, from July 19-22, the news outlet reported.

In the 2020 election, South Dakota voters passed Constitutional Amendment A to legalize adult-use cannabis, but the measure was then challenged in court and the state’s Supreme Court ultimately struck it down.

South Dakota lawmakers attempted to legalize adult-use cannabis legislatively and restore the will of their constituents and during this year’s legislative session, but the bill ultimately failed.

South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws (SDBML) then submitted the roughly 17,000 signatures required to get the issue before voters again in this year’s election, and the Secretary of State's office approved the group’s measure for the November ballot in June.

The initiative, IM 27, would pass with a simple majority of votes, and would legalize the possession, use and distribution of cannabis for South Dakotans 21 and older, the Argus Leader reported. The measure would also allow adults to grow up to three cannabis plants at home in areas where there are no adult-use dispensaries.

SDBML Campaign Director Matthew Schweich told the Argus Leader that this is “a flawed poll” that conflicts with prior polls that show support for cannabis legalization in South Dakota.

“When I look a little deeper, I found things that do not make sense to me,” Schweich told the news outlet. “Some of the numbers don’t really make sense and conflict strongly with previous data that we’ve seen.”

A Mason-Dixon poll commissioned by the Argus Leader and KELO-TV in October 2020 , for example, accurately captured public sentiment about cannabis-related ballot measures during that election cycle, the Argus Leader reported. That poll of 625 registered voters in South Dakota showed that 74% of respondents supported IM 26 to legalize medical cannabis and 51% supported Amendment A to legalize adult-use. The vote tally then showed 70% in favor of IM 26 and 54% in favor of Amendment A.