SIOUX FALLS, SD (KELO) — A new and influential voice is emerging in the debate over whether to legalize recreational marijuana in South Dakota. In Sioux Falls Wednesday, a group of community leaders voiced their opposition to Initiated Measure 27.
They represent law enforcement, elected leaders, plus mental health agencies, businesses and clergy, all united in their opposition to recreational marijuana.
“The thought of introducing another vice in our community right now gives me a lot of concern and a lot of pause,” Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken said.
The group is linking recreational marijuana to increases in violent crime as well as putting more children at-risk of using.
“My stomach churns a little bit when I see the ads claiming that marijuana’s going to be good for South Dakota and it’s the right thing to do, because it’s not,” Minnehaha County Sheriff Mike Milstead said.
But backers of IM 27 say more children are not using in states where recreational cannabis is already legal.
“If you look at the Colorado Department of Health, Washington Department of Health, peer review research academy, the Journal of the American Medical Association, lots of data showing that teen usage is either holding steady or actually decreasing,” Yes on 27 Campaign Manager Matthew Schweich said.
This new group opposing IM 27 represents a wide range of interests within the community and is politically-connected. But supporters say they remain confident of victory in November.
“They can have the politicians, we have the people. I know the people are on our side,” Schweich said.
The Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe released a statement Wednesday in support of IM 27, saying the benefits of marijuana products, whether for medical or recreational use, far outweigh the stigma and negative effects.