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Chamber’s Owen Notes Activity on Two Marijuana Initiatives; Petition Deadline Monday!

South Dakota Chamber of Commerce and Industry CEO David Owen takes a potshot at the two marijuana initiatives currently circulating in South Dakota:

T – Minus 10: Ballot measures trying for the 2020 general election ballot have just ten days until signatures are due in the Secretary of State’s Office. Deadline – Monday November 4 at 5 p.m.

Two measures are still “in the running” to qualify for the ballot – both are “going to pot”. After voting on five ballot measures during the 2018 general election and having voted on as many as eleven in 2006 and ten in 2016, next year looks like there may be only two ballot measures placed by signature gathering (plus any put on the ballot by the 2020 Legislature).

…* Legalizing marijuana for medical purposes – Melissa Mentele – Announced they had secured 32,000 signatures (double the number needed) by using volunteers and paid circulators. Signatures Needed = 16,961 valid signatures

* Legalize marijuana/15% excise tax/require hemp regulations – Brendan Johnson (Amendment) – Approved for circulation on September 11th – Being circulated by paid circulators – Deadline is November 4th Signatures Needed = 33,921 [David Owen, “2020 Ballot Measure Analysis,” Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce: Chamber Advocate, 2019.10.25].

If either of these measures makes the ballot, expect easy pot jokes through next November. But advocates shouldn’t mind: I get the impression that casual jabs about pot have as much power to rile the leafy base to advocacy and action as they do to stir the moral-superioritarians who want to continue restricting other people’s medicinal choices while freely drinking and taxing scotch.

Owen says there’s no evidence that any other measures are circulating. I can attest that he is mistaken about two measures: John Dale of Spearfish has certainly been reaching out to voters to get their names on his marijuana petition, and I just sent a batch of redistricting petitions to Dan Ahlers’s initiative campaign manager yesterday, even though Dan may be pre-occupied with other matters. However, Owen is correct that neither of those petitions have mounted the sort of highly visible petition drive that New Approach South Dakota and the Marijuana Policy Project have conducted.


  1. Porter Lansing 2019-10-30 11:07

    Cory. You wouldn’t know this. The whisky (not whiskey, that’s American) of choice in SD isn’t Scotch. It’s blended Canadian whisky such as Windsor, Canadian Mist, Seagram’s 7, Canadian Club, Crown Royal, Black Velvet, and Seagram’s VO. Scotch drinkers, like myself, have always been the minority at the bar. Especially, those like me, who tinker a dram of Usquaebach Old Rare late on a Saturday eve. :) (Truthfully, I’m more apt to drink the Costco brand KIRKLAND.)

  2. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-10-30 12:49

    Indeed, I am completely out of the loop as to what drinks are popular.

    But I’m pretty sure all those alcoholic beverages hurt more people in South Dakota on a daily basis that the substance the petitioners are promoting. And I know that I’ve almost gotten in fistfights with knuckleheads under the influence of demon rum (ale? hooch?) but never with someone similarly subcapacitated by the demon weed.

  3. MD 2019-10-30 15:03

    Ironically, the lead organizer for Legalize ND is named David Owen as well.

  4. Debbo 2019-10-30 21:44

    Cory, I am unable to find a definition for “superioritarians” on the Google machine, but I do like the word. Just sayin.

    Go Melissa! And Dave Owenses everywhere!

  5. Neal 2019-10-30 23:32

    If the only ballot measures this year are marijuana related, it’s going to be quite a show.

  6. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-10-31 05:22

    Debbo, I am happy to stretch the boundaries of language. Do let me know if I stretch too far!

    Neal, the part of the show I will find interesting is whether any such ballot issues will engage voters who usually sit out elections, whether those newly engaged voters will pay substantive and outcome-changing attention to any of the campaigns for elected office, and whether such voters will continue and expand their engagement on other issues facing the republic.

  7. Neal 2019-10-31 23:55

    Yes, maybe, and no.

  8. Porter Lansing 2019-11-04 10:03

    McTaggart, does your brain really think like this? Do you just believe anything that supports your opinion, without taking apart the story and analyzing the parts? But then, you don’t know much about the subject so how can you analyze?
    First of all, look at the picture. That’s hemp and it’s worth not even close to a billion bucks. It’s not worth anything because the thc levels got out of hand. It was nice of the cops to cut it down for the farmer. Saved him lots of labor and fuel. He won’t get a penalty, in court for an agricultural mistake.
    It’s not possible that the field in the picture was high quality, retail grade, legal for sale marijuana secretly grown for consumers. Good weed isn’t grown like that. It’s grown as individual plants and nurtured to become valuable.
    What’s the last line in the article, Doctor? Is it possible to use math skills to solve normal problems? Show us, next time.

  9. Robert McTaggart 2019-11-04 11:07

    So you read the article and came to the conclusion that hemp and marijuana do not have overlapping issues?

    The so-called good weed (i.e. very high levels of THC) is grown in energy-intensive indoor farms…uh-oh…those have a carbon footprint due to that energy use. And they do not respond very well to energy efficient LED lighting either.

    This operation cost the public tax dollars, instead of accruing monies and solving financial deficits at the state level…Oops.

  10. Porter Lansing 2019-11-04 11:28

    You don’t believe in the future of hemp production. You know next to nothing about hemp and cannabis markets. You are excused from the conversation.

  11. Robert McTaggart 2019-11-04 12:18

    Marijuana is a source of secondhand smoke, which does harm. Hence smoking marijuana is not harmless. You just want to ignore those facts.

    If hemp growers follow the rules, then they have the right to lose as much money as they want to, just don’t ask me to pay for it.

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