SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Similar to the November 2020 election, registered South Dakota voters will decide whether to legalize small amounts of marijuana in the upcoming November 2022 election. 

Initiated Measure 27 would legalize marijuana in small amounts for people age 21 and older. The measure legalizes substances considered felony controlled substances under State law. Marijuana remains illegal under Federal law.  

The LRC’s Fiscal Notes says IM 27 could create “marginal additional revenue in new civil penalty fines” and the state could see a “minimal decrease in expenses due to decreased incarceration for marijuana-related offenses.” 

Proponents say legalizing small amounts gives people 21 or older the freedom to choose whether to use marijuana and allows police to focus on harsher crimes. Opponents say legal marijuana will increase marijuana use for kids and not help foster healthy families. 

What do local candidates think? 

In answers from a KELOLAND News candidate survey sent to more than 110 legislative candidates across the state, a majority of candidates that have responded support IM 27. 

KELOLAND News has compiled responses from more than 60 local candidates and their answers can be found in the chart below. 

In response to the question on IM 27, 37 candidates stated they support IM 27, 15 candidates said they were against IM 27 and another 12 did not state a clear position in their submitted answer. There’s more than 110 legislative candidates in the 35 districts for the South Dakota Legislature and more than 60 have responded to KELOLAND’s candidate survey. 

KELOLAND News did not send surveys to the 20 Republican Senate candidates that have no opposing candidates or the 23 Republican House candidates that have no opposing candidates. 

Many responses in favor of IM 27 brought up the 2020 Amendment A vote that legalized marijuana through a Constitutional Amendment. In November 2021, the South Dakota Supreme Court ruled Amendment A was invalid. 

Sen. Kyle Schoenfish (R-Scotland) is seeking re-election in District 19. He said he supports IM 27 because it “will reflect the will of the voters from the previous election and reduce government expenses.” 

Candidates against IM 27 mostly pointed to the impacts recreational marijuana may have on younger people.  

“My primary concern about recreational marijuana is legal use by youth,” responded Sen. Larry Zikmund (R-Sioux Falls), who is seeking re-election in District 14. “I also worry about South Dakota experiencing some of the pitfalls other states have seen like increased homelessness, crime, and use of narcotics.

Answers from candidates that did not give away clear positions stated voters will ultimately decide the issue and they’d find ways to implement the wishes from voters.  

Early voting is underway, while the voter registration deadline is Oct. 24 and Election Day is set for Nov. 8.