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Should Pot Be Legal In South Dakota?

January 9, 2014, 9:55 PM by Perry Groten

Should Pot Be Legal In South Dakota?

Colorado's full embrace of legalizing marijuana doesn't seem to have as firm a grip here in South Dakota.  It's been just over a week since people could purchase pot in Colorado and sales have been so brisk, some shops are running low. But many people don't think it's high-time to make marijuana legal in South Dakota.

It's been like Black Friday every day at Colorado pot shops this year. The long lines of customers point to a strong demand. But many South Dakotans think society pays a heavy price by legalizing marijuana.

"I think we have enough issues with gateway drugs in our community that we don't need to add another one.  And, it's just a personal feeling that I have that it's just not right," Lynne Steele of Sioux Falls said.

But some people think South Dakota should decriminalize marijuana.

"I guess you could give it a try to see how it works out, but if it doesn't raise the crime rates, I don't see why not,"  Christine Lebeda of Humboldt said.

Supporters say marijuana is a far less dangerous drug than alcohol or tobacco. Even those opposed to making pot legal are intrigued by the potential tax revenues it could generate for the state.

"I suppose if they did legalize it, they could tax it more and we could get more money and get us out of debt, but other than that, I don't think there's a really good use to legalize marijuana," Kailea Mattheis of Hartford said.

Colorado could be a testing ground for South Dakota.

"Maybe if we can determine how it affects or impacts Colorado in the future, that may make a difference in the decision.  But in my age group, I just don't think that any of us would think that that's the right thing to do," Steele said.

But supporters say the strong sales in Colorado can't be ignored and that other states including South Dakota should at least consider turning marijuana into a cash crop.

The demand isn't limited to Colorado customers.  Out-of-state visitors make up as much as a third of sales at some Denver stores.  Business owners call the out-of-staters "pot birds."

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