PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — Supporters have raised and spent hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to convince voters to mark yes on two marijuana-legalization questions on South Dakota’s general-election ballot. Opponents meanwhile raised about one-fifth of that amount trying to get voters to mark no.
Marijuana currently is illegal to use or possess in South Dakota. Constitutional Amendment A would legalize recreational marijuana for adults 21 and older and charge a 15% state tax. Initiated Measure 26 would legalize medical marijuana. The campaign-finance reports for the supporters, covering the period of May 17 through October 14, show:
South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws, a Sioux Falls-based committee, received $580,278. That included $435,000 from the New Approach political action committee, based in Washington, D.C., as well as $75,000 from Justin Johnson of Sioux Falls, $50,000 from Richard J. Steves Jr. of Edmonds, Washington, and $12,000 from Pam Sands of Sioux Falls;
New Approach South Dakota Medical Cannabis, based in Emery, received $46,992, including $41,320 from the federal New Approach PAC.
The main opposition comes from the No Way On A ballot-question committee that was organized July 7 by David Owen, president for the South Dakota Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
The No Way committee’s pre-general election report wasn’t posted as of Wednesday afternoon on the South Dakota Secretary of State campaign-finance website. Nor was the chamber‘s ballot-question committee’s latest report. The filing deadline was October 19. Owen said both reports were filed Saturday.
Owen provided reporters with a copy of the No Way report. It showed $129,610 in income and $55,043.90 in spending. He also provided a copy of the chamber’s report in a follow-up email. The Secretary of State’s staff responded Thursday afternoon that both reports were now posted.
Open for Business, the South Dakota Retailers Association’s ballot measure committee, gave $50,000 to No Way, according to its recent report. And the ballot-measure committee representing South Dakota electric utility companies donated $20,000 to No Way.
No Way also received $10,000 from the campaign committee for former Governor Dennis Daugaard, according to his latest report.
Governor Kristi Noem’s report doesn’t show a donation to No Way, but she is in a commercial that No Way funded. “It’s not good for our kids and it’s not good for our communities,” Noem says about legalizing marijuana in the ad.
Last year she vetoed industrial-hemp legislation, saying its passage would be a gateway to legalizing marijuana. That was before the two measures made the ballot. She signed a revised version of the industrial-hemp bill this year.