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Sports Betting, Medical Marijuana, Recreational Pot Likely Legal in South Dakota Come July 1

I’m guessing 43,000 ballots remain to be counted in Minnehaha County, the only jurisdiction in South Dakota not reporting complete results as of 7:30 this brilliant sunny morning on the prairie. 43,000 votes will not change the outcome of the votes on Amendment B and Initiated Measure 26, and it is unlikely they will break in a sufficiently extreme negative fashion to beat Amendment A.

So get ready, South Dakota: come July 1, y’all can bet on sports and smoke pot. How’s that for social progress?

As of this morning’s report, with 622 of 693 precincts reporting complete results and another 71 still partial, Amendment B, to allow sports betting in Deadwood, has 63,062 more yeas than nays. Initiated Measure 26, to allow medical marijuana in South Dakota, has 144,728 more yeas than nays. The Minnehaha vote can’t sink either of those measures.

Amendment A, the more far-reaching measure to write medical marijuana, recreational marijuana, and industrial hemp into our state constitution, predictably received a cooler reception from South Dakota voters. A’s yeas outnumber nays, but only by 25,635, the closest split on any statewide ballot line, issue or candidate. The outstanding Minnehaha votes could mathematically reverse that advantage, but the remaining absentee votes in Sioux Falls and its environs would have to break 20–80 against Amendment A. Even in the the counties most dubious (least doobie-ous?) about Amendment A, the highest nay percentages have been 72.6% in Haakon County and 72.2% in Douglas County. The strongest opposition to A was in rural counties; the only “urban” counties to break against A are Beadle (50.75% against) and Davison (50.55% against). The votes counted so far in Minnehaha County are 59.42% in favor of A. The notion that 80% of the remaining early votes in our most urban county would go against A thus seems unlikely.

South Dakota Secretary of State, Amendment A incomplete results and map as of 2020.11.04 07:59 CST, showing complete results from all counties except Minnehaha.
South Dakota Secretary of State, Amendment A incomplete results and map as of 2020.11.04 07:59 CST, showing complete results from all counties except Minnehaha.

The Legislature can’t stop either Amendment A or Amendment B; only we voters can change our constitution. But the Legislature could foul up the implementation of those amendments with over-regulation or foot-dragging during the 2021 Session, if Governor Kristi Noem tells them to. The Legislature can amend or repeal Initiated Measure 26, since it is just a law.


  1. 96Tears 2020-11-04 08:28

    Lesson learned (again) for self-righteous partisan Republicans:

    – Don’t mess with our women. (Two losses on the ballot on their quest to eliminate reproductive choice.)

    – Don’t mess with our gamblin’. (It just keeps expanding.)

    – Don’t mess with our working folk. (Losses on increases in the state minimum wage.)

    – Don’t mess with our money. (Payday loans bite the dust at the ballot box. Good riddance!)

    – And now, don’t mess with our pot!

    While South Dakota remains extremely partisan Republican (why, I can’t figure that out since the SDGOP is an oozing, festering sore of corruption and repression), the merger of libertarians, liberals and nonpartisan voters create a significant edge on ballot issues. That’s reason for hope despite the heavy support for a dope like Mike Rounds and for corrupt incompetents like Noem and Trump. One of these days, the blinders will slip off.

  2. Ryan 2020-11-04 08:35

    Yeah buddy.

  3. Richard Schriever 2020-11-04 08:40

    96 tears. I not so sure that “the blinders will slip off”. I’m not so sure that this isn’t a somewhat benighted but deliberate process to “assure balance” (and conflict) between professional elected government and direct self-government on the part of voters.

    We do still need a constitutional amendment that PROHIBITS professional elected government from rejecting or altering direct, initiated self-government acts.

  4. Dicta 2020-11-04 09:51

    Noem is nothing if not self-interested. Given that it looks like Biden is going to win, I doubt she attempts to overrule South Dakota’s voters (I suspect A will break 54-46 or possibly even 55-45 before it is done) with no clear position in DC waiting for her.

  5. Eve Fisher 2020-11-04 09:54

    Well, here’s where we find out if Kristi Noem really does “respect our freedoms” and neither vetoes nor whines about the legalization of pot in SD.

  6. James 2020-11-04 10:29

    96Tears who were these candidates?

  7. 96Tears 2020-11-04 11:23

    James, they are ballot issue results from the last couple decades that were landmark. Not candidates. Considering the loss of yet more Dem legislative seats, I consider the candidate results a strong repudiation against Democrats in this state. Trump hyper-energized his base across the nation with anger, conspiracies that were loco, racial hate and suspicion the election was rigged and they responded like Pavlov’s dogs.

  8. Dicta 2020-11-04 11:26

    It’s no so simple as blaming his base. He flipped a pretty fair number of hispanic voters. Look at what happened in Florida. You need to try to understand why your opponent is flipping people, not reduce it to caricature because you are frustrated. And fwiw, it looks like suburban white women might win Biden this election. Use your noodles, people.

  9. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2020-11-04 12:22

    96Tears, the SDGOP will learn nothing from these ballot measure results. Once again, on the same ballot where South Dakotan rejected specific policy positions staked out by Republicans (and we should really only count 26 and A in that category, as Republicans put B on the ballot and were divided on sports betting), South Dakotans elected more Republican candidates to make more bad policies in the Legislature.

    The only thing the SDGOP learns from ballot measures is that the SDGOP can rule with impunity and not suffer personal or political consequences. The occasional policy corrections exacted by the electorate have done nothing to undermine the R brand.

  10. kj trailer trash 2020-11-04 12:30

    If pot users are lucky, perhaps testimonials such as from Prairie Doc Rick Holm’s wife, about his embracing of cannabis for giving him the will to live during his cancer battle, will sway enough ‘Pubs in Pierre to not go against the will of the people. For once.

  11. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2020-11-04 12:34

    Maybe, KJ. Maybe the Republicans will simply focus their efforts on other policies that sustain their brand, like radical abortion restrictions and taxpayer subsidies for Christian madrassas.

  12. Jenny 2020-11-04 12:39

    Well, I’ll be darned, who would have thought Deep Red SD would legalize recreational cannabis before MN. Congratulations, SD, I’m proud of you. Happy toking! ;)

  13. Jake 2020-11-04 17:00

    Jenny, in South Dakota it’s ALL about the ‘greenbacks’! Seeing the tax money flow into Colorado’s coffers from weed makes SD GOP think hmmm-beats begging from the Feds, maybe? And pushes an income (fairness) tax further into future..

  14. Jake 2020-11-04 17:10

    But-Cory my good man; We all are aware how our GOP friends hate regulations with a passion similar/equal to the early settlers feelings toward the Native Americans! Mention ‘regulation’ and their eyes roll back, lips curl into a mad-dog snarl and their eyes throw sparks! Am I wrong? Or do you think they will try to ‘protect us from ourselves’? But no, guess not, cuz Noem will surely let us put big-boy pants on and she’ll trust us to do the right thing (of course).

  15. John 2020-11-04 19:50

    A state that was so concerned about a few untaxed dollars via internet shopping ought to pull out all the stops to keep the sports gaming and pot tax dollars here instead of sending them to Colorado or Draftkings or Penn National Gaming, or MGM. But alas, that requires the legislature to think and then act in the best interest of the people. Why would they start now? It’s likely the legislators first need ALEC to tell them what to think.

  16. Nix 2020-11-05 06:36

    I’ll bet that old Bill Janklow is spinning in his grave.
    I’m not sure what The Dope Queen of Delusion feels like today, but to quote her:
    “I’ve never met anyone who got smarter smoking pot”

    That, I truly believe to be true.
    The part about her never meeting anyone.
    My suggestion is that the entire
    SDGOP will soon be able to indulge.
    And maybe the Queen will find out that there is a difference that she can
    understand between being smart and
    being wise.

    She’s still a Dope.

  17. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2020-11-05 12:14

    UPDATE: Minnehaha has reported its complete results. Minnehaha gave Amendment A an even larger margin, more than 69K more in favor than opposed. Minnehaha broke 62.3% for, 37.7% against A. Minnehaha went 75.8% for, 24.2% against IM 26. Minnehaha went 60.3% for, 39.7% against Amendment B. Minnehaha County vote more strongly in favor of each ballot measure than the statewide Yes percentage.

  18. grudznick 2020-11-05 19:04

    I think everybody knew there are a lot of drug fiends in Sioux Falls. And a fair amount of gamblers. The Amendment lettered “A” will actually enhance the one lettered “B” for the state’s coffers. People will get all toked up and lay back in their chairs and say “sure dude, I’ll lay a fitty on the Vikings to win the super bowl, man.”

  19. John 2020-11-05 19:37

    noem and the old goats on the South Dakota legislature are grousing their contempt for democracy in the Argus (of course behind a paywall). They sound like they’ll lose investments in the prison industrial complex. Instead they should admit they were / are wrong and quickly set regulations and taxes for marijuana. But they will try to circumvent democracy because, well, past is prologue, and that is who they are – the nanny state.

    Twenty-ish years ago Portugal decriminalized small quantities of drugs, not just marijuana. Drug related crime plummeted. Drug use and overdoses fell for years. Other nations did the same with the same results. The war on drugs is a suckers war. Treat the under-lying cause, not the afflicted. But do not expect the South Dakota nanny state to practice democracy or good citizen governance any time soon.

  20. bearcreekbat 2020-11-06 00:21

    The AP reports that Oregon voters just decriminalized

    possession of heroin, methamphetamine, LSD, oxycodone and other hard drugs. . . .

    Instead of going to trial and facing possible jail time, a person would have the option of paying a $100 fine or attending new “addiction recovery centers” funded by millions of dollars of tax revenue from Oregon’s legalized, regulated marijuana industry.

    In light of SD own recent flirtation with reason, perhaps there is hope that someday in the not too distant future SD, like Oregon, also will wise up and eliminate outdated and ineffective draconian criminal penalties for drug possession and use and begin to address this issue with a much more rational approach tempered by a modicum of compassion.

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