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Voter Bribery: Medical Cannabis Petitioners Offered Free Drinks to Pierre Signers

New Approach South Dakota, the group petitioning to place medical cannabis on the 2016 ballot, appears to have broken election law. The ballot question committee posted the following inducement to sign its initiative petition on its Facebook page on Saturday, August 8:

New Approach South Dakota, Facebook post, 2015.08.08, screen cap 2015.08.11.
New Approach South Dakota, Facebook post, 2015.08.08, screen cap 2015.08.11.

We have a volunteer in PIERRE today! Stop down at the Longbranch from 12-4!

Our volunteer is offering a free beverage to whoever comes down to sign! [New Approach South Dakota, Facebook post, 2015.08.08]

Dakota War College, which vigorously hews to the GOP party line in opposing any measure easing regulations on cannabis, correctly points to SDCL 12-26-15, specifically to provisions added in 2013 by House Bill 1018, that deem gifts or promises of gifts for signing ballot measure petitions a Class 2 misdemeanor. The Hughes County States Attorney need not track down the Pierre volunteer or Saturday signers and establish that any drinks were actually bought; the offer above constitutes bribery of voters under SDCL 12-26-15, clauses 6 and/or 8.

New Approach South Dakota plans to work the Brown County Fair on Thursday; I’ll see if I can chat with them and make sure they aren’t buying anyone funnel cakes.


  1. Mrs. Nelson 2015-08-11 07:41

    So did anyone actually *tell* them they can’t do that?

    New Approach seems just as unorganized and maybe just a little more professional than South Dakotans Against Prohibition. But maybe I’m wrong about them.

  2. Lynn 2015-08-11 07:45

    So if the Payday Loan industry sets up their 18 percent decoy petition and offers tickets to the beer garden at the Brown County Fair for anyone signing the petition it’s no big deal? Free Beverage, Indian Taco, or Ticket for Midway rides? No biggie?

  3. Lynn 2015-08-11 07:54

    Mrs Nelson,

    When you have one petitioner for medical marijuana posting that they will be at Mitchell’s skateboard park for those looking to get “their medicine” and “they don’t have to be a skateboarder” it makes you wonder just who will benefit from this fake medical marijuana petition.

    There were complaints in Boulder Co with college newspapers that were filled with ads targeting young college kids for medical marijuana for ailments that normally would affect the elderly.

    “US Attorney Duffy said she’s seen marijuana stores advertise coupons, bring-a-friend deals, extra samples for buying a certain amount of marijuana, magazines devoted entirely to the industry, T-shirts for sale, marijuana linked to video games – all things, she said, “in large part directed at our youth and children.” “The good intentions behind that law,” she said, “have almost completely been taken over by people who are trying to use that permission law to get rich, to distribute marijuana and traffic drugs to people who aren’t sick, to our youth and to people who are using drugs on a recreational basis.”

  4. happy camper 2015-08-11 08:40

    Oh Lynn, you’re like a rabid dog. What bothers me the most you’re not fair in your arguments. Just yesterday I read an article from someone who had been against legalization but watched Colorado closely and it changed his mind. Of his many reasons the gray market was one: legal cannabis being sold under the table which cuts right in to organized crime. Denver may soon allow marijuana to be used openly and publicly. Another step towards changing the way people see the drug. I understand you think it’s damaged the lives of people you know, but I really wonder what would have happened to them if marijuana didn’t exist. Used alcohol or something stronger? People “self medicate” whether we want them to or not, and we often don’t know what’s troubling even our closest friends. It could be a mental illness like a social phobia for that one person you described who just stayed home all the time. Obviously these people need help as in therapy, but it’s not fair to blame cannabis. At the same time if cannabis does become mainstream we as a society do need to establish safe norms for its use. That debate is essential, but on this issue you act like a hmmm Republican. Although even they are at 40% acceptance if I remember correctly.

  5. Lynn 2015-08-11 09:37

    New Approach South Dakota just removed 8/8/2015 posting the “Sign our petition and get a free beverage” at the Longbranch Bar in Pierre. Gosh! I wonder why? Anything to hide? lol

  6. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-08-11 10:04

    Can you blame them? I’m surprised it stayed up as long as it did… or that it went up in the first place. Petitioners don’t by drinks for signers.

  7. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-08-11 10:05

    And Lynn, if I hear the Furlong fakers are buying signers food and drink, I’ll be all over that story. Send your tips here, fairgoers!

  8. happy camper 2015-08-11 10:06

    Lynn, here’s my friend case in point. She’s 47 and struggling with alcohol abuse after a failed relationship. It started to a lesser extent 15 years ago after her mother’s death. Fast forward and she’s staying with her kids until she finds a job and gets back on track. She’s also part Native American. I don’t believe in race as I’ve argued before, but there are genetic differences in groups (not just Native Americans either), and backed by scientific studies she also believes she can’t process alcohol normally as most people. Her mother would get totally out of control after drinking alcohol as do two of her four children. I would love for her to open up to me or a professional about her feelings and all that when she is sober, but that doesn’t happen. Obviously getting to the heart of the problem while sober would be the answer, but we can’t dictate. It would be better if she could use a little marijuana rather than get totally crazy when intoxicated. She lives in Colorado but companies still screen for cannabis even though it’s legal there. I know the lesser of two evils doesn’t make the best argument, but we can’t change everything, especially people. Her drinking worries me. Her son spit on a cop and bit his brother while intoxicated. Even though alcohol is legal, it’s so damaging for some people. Native Americans self report up to 80% rate of alcoholism on the reservation. That’s terribly wrong. There should be a safer, more mild alternative to alcohol in my opinion.

  9. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-08-11 10:09

    Let’s remember, the issue on this post is not the merits of any one petition. It’s voter bribery. If you want a measure on the ballot, you can’t bribe people for their signatures.

  10. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-08-11 10:12

    Mrs. Nelson, evidently someone has told them now, since they’ve removed that Facebook post. But ignorance of the law is no excuse. It behooves all petitioners to know the rules.

  11. Lynn 2015-08-11 10:21

    The SD Attorney General’s Office has been contacted regarding this. This affects the integrity of the electoral process.

  12. Melissa Mentele 2015-08-11 10:34

    We are currently investigating this issue and will be updating as more information is available. Any signatures that were collected by that volunteer will be destroyed. This is not how things are run at New Approach we do not bribe anyone to sign as this issue has and will stand on its own 2 feet. Thank you for pointing out this error and we will be making sure our volunteers are re-trained & this volunteer removed and I also learned a valuable lesson to never leave our FB unattended under volunteer support while I am working another event.

  13. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-08-11 10:39

    Good response, Ms. Mentele. Can you tell us who that volunteer was so we can verify that no signatures from that volunteer on August 8 are included in the petition? And can you tell us who placed the offer on NASD’s Facebook page?

  14. Lynn 2015-08-11 10:40

    Then the question remains where else has this happened? A little trade for a signature on a petition?

  15. Melissa Mentele 2015-08-11 10:50

    Yes I can the volunteer was Jessica Burns from New Approach and Miranda Jae from SDAP they teamed up for an event in Pierre that they planned and implemented. We will be having Jessica make a official statement with our attorney and will pull those signatures out. We will also be giving those to the SOS office with our submission just so it is clear they are not part of our official count. I just spoke with the SOS office regarding this. Lynn-your answer is never. I work 99% of our events and this has never happened before and will never happen again. Our campaign is built on integrity and honesty as the individuals in the disabled community are really counting on us. We will never do anything to jeopardize their access. I believe in winning the honest way and anyone who has to cheat to win is in fact the loser. Thank You again Cory for bringing this issue to my attention.

  16. Lynn 2015-08-11 11:13


    “I work 99% of our events and this has never happened before and will never happen again.”

    Are there others distributing your petition across the state without your direct supervision?

    “Our campaign is built on integrity and honesty as the individuals in the disabled community are really counting on us.”

    You mean you are trying to focus on the integrity and honesty of the petition process correct?

    The medical claims of marijuana can be disputed as well as who those who say it medically helps them. A drug addict can claim their favorite drug of choice is their “medicine.”

  17. larry kurtz 2015-08-11 11:16

    Contraindications are printed on most medication, Lynn. Get over yourself.

  18. larry kurtz 2015-08-11 11:21

    I don’t use legal opioids because they will eat your liver even under care of a physician.

  19. Lynn 2015-08-11 11:22

    Larry let Melissa answer the questions. Yeah we know your life centers around the use Marijuana

  20. larry kurtz 2015-08-11 11:23

    The medical claims of any FDA-approved drug can be disputed, so can yours, Lynn.

  21. larry kurtz 2015-08-11 11:23

    Your question to Melissa is as ridiculous as your obsession with limiting my civil rights.

  22. Mrs. Nelson 2015-08-11 12:13

    Yes, Cory, ignorance is not acceptable.

    I’m glad Melissa has fixed their issue with this.

  23. happy camper 2015-08-11 12:23

    After I pour out my heart and soul I’m made irrelevant. Fine, they should follow the law, but at least they’re getting actively involved in something they care about which Cory normally encourages. It was most likely an honest mistake so let’s not make a federal case out of a free beverage. It was probably hot outside and they just wanted to be considerate.

  24. Bill Fleming 2015-08-11 12:39

    LOL, Happy Camp, I hear you. It was probably hot outside, so you can cool off with a nice gin and tonic, but only if you sign our petition. The only thing worse would be if you would get a nice little flat spliff in exchange for your signature. I’m sorry man, but giving addicts a free hit of drugs (be they legal or illegal) in order to coerce a desired political behavior just isn’t the right way to run our political system in my humble opinion.

  25. happy camper 2015-08-11 13:05

    Oh, I didn’t know the Longbranch was a bar, nor a spliff a very large and potent marijuana cigarette. No, not acceptable. Clean it up.

  26. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-08-11 13:11

    Ms. Mentele’s response goes from good to great. She appears to be working very hard to ensure that this one instance of lawbreaking by individuals associated with organization does not sink the petition drive. We could not ask for a firmer, clearer, more effective organizational response to head off further violations and bad press.

  27. Lynn 2015-08-11 13:20


    Besides the questions I have for you above did you have one of your petitioners for medical marijuana at the Mitchell Skateboard Park recently? She said she would be there so they could sign the petition so they could get “their medicine” and “they don’t have to be a skateboarder”?

    Are kids and older skateboarders for some reason in need of medical marijuana?

  28. larry kurtz 2015-08-11 13:27

    Lynn is becoming the Sibby of DFP.

  29. Lynn 2015-08-11 13:34

    Larry why you have not been permanently banned to Sibbyland has baffled many of us.

  30. larry kurtz 2015-08-11 13:35

    You mean you and the voices in your head, Lynn?

  31. Melissa Mentele 2015-08-11 14:00

    Thank You Cory. Lynn no we did not have a volunteer at the skate park. You are confusing us with South Dakotans Against Prohibition. We do not follow their events so please check their FB page for that info.


  32. Lynn 2015-08-11 14:23


    Whitney Felix of Mitchell is a petitioner with SDAP and not New Approach? Her posting about signing a petition at the skate park to get “their medicine” seemed odd.

  33. Melissa Mentele 2015-08-11 14:35

    She is not part of our volunteer pool please refer your questions regarding her to Ryan Gaddy or Kim Sheldon their Mitchell admin. I don’t control what they do or post. We do however maintain that we are not affiliated with them and wish they would stop attempting to ride the coat tails of our bill in an effort to solicit signatures for their decrim. SDAP continues to promote medical cannabis on their page to increase the numbers and support. We have requested they stop several times to no avail. Lynn you seem to have a lot of time on your hands please feel free to go visit their page. I am sure you will meet Whitney and Kim through their videos.
    Thank You,

  34. mike from iowa 2015-08-11 14:38

    Spliff? Whatever happened to “doobie?” Curious iowan would like to know.

  35. Deb Geelsdottir 2015-08-11 14:47

    It sounds to me that Ms. Mentele is managing as well and ethically as possible. Good for you.

    For the record, I believe marijuana ought to be legalized and regulated like alcohol.

    Larry and Lynn, I’m certain there is not one single, solitary, regular DFP reader who does not have a crystal clear understanding of your positions on marijuana. I really wish you could both trust that and let up a little. Pretty please?

  36. Bill Fleming 2015-08-11 14:50

    Mike, the operative word is “flat” as in having been in your wallet so long it’s lost it’s original “doobie” shape. I could have used any number of words I suppose, but for the sake of brevity I just used the best two syllables I could think of to describe something someone probably shouldn’t do for any number of good reasons. :-)

  37. mike from iowa 2015-08-11 15:14

    Thanks, Bill. And a hearty thank you to Ms Deb who would no doubt dearly love to officiate a wedding between L and L,who already sound like a married couple.

  38. happy camper 2015-08-11 15:51

    Deb G. and happy camper agree on both race and marijuana but disagree on the bickering. Keep it up L&L!

  39. grudznick 2015-08-11 17:40

    Mr. Mike, allow me to tell you a story. Once, at breakfast some time ago, a fellow at the neighboring table overheard Mr. Fleming use the word “spliff” when rebutting one of my better arguments against Devil Weed. The fellow looked at Bill and said something like “you must be one of them hipsters.” Mr. Flemming looked him up and then looked him down and then said to him “Sir, you are in no condition to discuss what is hip” and then went back to his fancy omelette with gusto.

  40. larry kurtz 2015-08-11 17:45

    Is Stan Adelstein still alive, grud?

  41. larry kurtz 2015-08-11 17:45

    I’m asking because he gave Steve Westra a thousand simoleons last cycle.

  42. grudznick 2015-08-11 17:52

    I wonder how much Mr. Stan will dole out to his chosen ones this next cycle. Lots, I bet.

  43. leslie 2015-08-11 21:13

    off-hand it maybe that our out dated mental health laws overshadow drug laws in destroying lives.

    the lack of access, even with insurance, for poor people with mental illness, is a delay and denial of benefits game by the insurance company, and putting small town mental heath professionals and doctors out of business.

  44. grudznick 2015-08-12 00:18

    I called Mr. Stan.
    He’s no longer a Westra fan.
    Most think he is the man.
    Not Westra, Mr. Stan.

  45. P Lansing 2015-08-12 04:16

    Water’s a beverage.

  46. barry freed 2015-08-12 08:34

    Oh, yeah baby!

    Alright now!!
    Won’t you listen?

    When I first met you, didn’t realize
    I can’t forget you, for your surprize
    You introduced me, to my mind
    And left me wanting, you and your kind

    I love you, oh you know it

    My life was empty forever on a down
    Until you took me, showed me around
    My life is free now, my life is clear
    I love you sweet leaf, though you cant hear

    Come on now, try it out

    Straight people dont know, what your about
    They put you down and shut you out
    You gave to me a new belief
    And soon the world will love you sweet leaf

  47. Lynn 2015-08-12 10:23


    It is a little confusing with SDAP and New Approach having an intermingling of volunteers with links to the same pro-pot entities here in South Dakota and there are more than just SDAP and New Approach which all seem to be run by the same people.

    Plenty of time on my hands? Only enough time dedicated to see and help inform others that this Medical Marijuana petition is a fake/flawed petition that has plenty of purposely designed holes in it which enables recreational users and addicts. This petition draws far more support by rec users, addicts and especially out of state Big Marijuana and will be far more profitable than the more medically focused and tightly controlled Medical Marijuana Law Minnesota has based on hard science.

    I know this softer sale of recreational marijuana tugs at peoples hearts and as a reminder of what a US attorney stated calling out the abuses and profiteers of the medical marijuana industry.

    “US Attorney Duffy said she’s seen marijuana stores advertise coupons, bring-a-friend deals, extra samples for buying a certain amount of marijuana, magazines devoted entirely to the industry, T-shirts for sale, marijuana linked to video games – all things, she said, “in large part directed at our youth and children.” “The good intentions behind that law,” she said, “have almost completely been taken over by people who are trying to use that permission law to get rich, to distribute marijuana and traffic drugs to people who aren’t sick, to our youth and to people who are using drugs on a recreational basis.”

  48. larry kurtz 2015-08-12 10:26

    PP has a post up about this, Lynn: go over there and whine about pioneers like me leading the cannabis rights campaign.

  49. Douglas Wiken 2015-08-12 11:51

    Nearly everybody signing a petition expects or hopes to get something out of that act. Usually not immediately, but after the election. Perhaps alcohol should be banned as an incentive, but water, coffee, cookies, etc. would seem to be more of a hospitality function. Several years ago the state went after some remote township that had coffee and pie at an election vote location. These things are trivial in comparison to the benefits signers of corporate sponsored legislation often expect.

    Legislators in Pierre are treated to coffee, cake, pie, etc during the session. Perhaps that all should be banned as well if they assume a few cents worth of anything is going to sway voters votes or petition signing.

  50. happy camper 2015-08-12 11:57

    Lynn, please say something new or pick a fight with Larry. Educate or entertain. John Oliver can do both cause he’s a very talented fellow. Did you at least watch that video (above)? We’ve sent people to jail for life because a small amount of cannabis was sold while carrying a handgun. Even the sentencing judge was heartsick against it. Our drug laws have to advance based on everything going on around us. Like those drug cartels. Have you really thought about this from all angles? Cause you seem pretty one sided with no consideration for all the suffering as things are now. It’s also a fact the drug cartels make huge payoffs to officials, both Mexican and American besides all the killing they do. Guzman climbed in a tunnel dug right to his cell for goodness sake. We can’t stop it.

  51. happy camper 2015-08-12 13:29

    Even The Daily Caller admits cannabis can reduce and possibly eliminate serious brain tumors.

    A publication from NIDA, revised as of April 2015, states that “recent animal studies have shown that marijuana can kill certain cancer cells and reduce the size of others. Evidence from one animal study suggests that extracts from whole-plant marijuana can shrink one of the most serious types of brain tumors. Research in mice showed that these extracts, when used with radiation, increased the cancer-killing effects of the radiation.”

    Read more:

  52. happy camper 2015-08-13 14:27

    In November Ohio will vote on full legalization of cannabis, but unfairly the top 10 contributors to the ballet measure will be the only ones that get a license to grow. Opinion polls there are at 52% to approve, but it would essentially create a new regulated cartel. The black market for marijuana contributes up to 20 to 30 percent of the revenue for the drug cartels they say, so at least that would be eliminated, but it’s the already wealthy 1% that are trying to buy the law for their own profit. Ugh. Even those for legalization aren’t in love with this measure.

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