South Dakota Marijuana Ballot Initiatives

Statewide polling data compiled last week shows that three-out-of-four South Dakota voters support a ballot measure to legalize medical cannabis access in the state, but that only 51 percent back a separate amendment to regulate the adult-use market.

The poll, conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy, finds that 74 percent of respondents intend to vote ‘yes’ on Initiative Measure 26 — which establishes a medical cannabis access program in South Dakota. By contrast, fewer likely voters express their support for Constitutional Amendment A, which legalizes the use, production, and retail sale of cannabis for adults. Pollsters reported that 51 percent of likely voters back the measure, with 44 percent opposed and five percent undecided.

Similar to recent poll results from Arizona and Montana, support for the Amendment is strongly partisan. Among South Dakota Democrats, 73 percent express their intent to vote ‘yes’ for Amendment A, as do 58 percent of Independents. By contrast, only 34 percent of Republicans back the amendment.

Under state law, the possession of any amount of marijuana is a Class 1 misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail, a $2,000 fine, and a criminal record. In 2018, an estimated one out of every ten arrests made in the state was marijuana-related, according to data compiled by campaign proponents South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws. Ninety-five percent of all cannabis arrests in South Dakota were for possession. According to an analysis of marijuana arrest data compiled by the ACLU, Black Americans in South Dakota are five times more likely than whites to be arrested for possessing cannabis.

Both statewide measures are opposed by South Dakota’s Republican Gov. Kristi Noem, who recently appeared in a televised ad spot speaking out against them.

Voters in Arizona, Montana, and New Jersey, will also decide on adult-use legalization ballot initiatives on Election Day, while voters in Mississippi will decide between two dueling measures specific to regulating medical cannabis use.

For more information, visit NORML’s Election Hub.