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Pro-Potters Beat Chamber in SD Fundraising, Blow Foes Away with Out-of-State Dollars

The Chamber of Commerce says it failed to stop the enshrinement of doobage in the South Dakota State Constitution because outside interests outspent them:

David Owen is president of the South Dakota Chamber of Commerce and Industry. He led the opposition to legalization with the group No Way on Amendment A, and said his initial reaction to the vote was “well, we came in second.”

“I respect the voters’ decision. We dedicated ourselves to making sure voters understood Amendment A is not for medical, and I think we effectively communicated that message. Medical passed with 70% of the vote and recreational only passed with 53%. In the end, [legalization proponents] spent millions [to get this passed] with the help of D.C., compared to $300,000 of South Dakota money. That makes a difference,” Owen told the Capital Journal [Abby Wargo, “Marijuana Legalized in S.D.,” Pierre Capital Journal, 2020.11.04].

The Chamber’s No Way on A Committee reported $129,610 raised on its pre-general form, plus pre-election supplementals of $10K from Dana Dykhouse, $54K from SD Chamber BAC, $2K from Harms Oil, $4K from Valley Queen Cheese Factory and $1K from SD Network. That $200K+ all came from South Dakota donors. Dr. Marc Boddicker’s No Need for Weed in SD committee raised paltrier sums—$5,154.80 pre-general, plus $1,600 in cash and $1K in donated goods and services on a supplemental. $2K of No Need for Weed’s income ($1K cash, $1K in-kind) came from one Miranda Gohn of Minnesota. Out-of-state resources thus made up 0.96% of the resources dedicated to the failing effort to keep South Dakota a no-high zone.

South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws, the backers of Amendment A, trounced the Chamber in fundraising. Counting everything, cash and in-kind contributions, SDFBML raised $226,285.45 just from South Dakotans, 13% more than the Chamber was able to shake from the pockets of its biz chums here. $100K of that came in the last week of the campaign from the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe’s Pharms LLC.

But SDFBML rallied 8.7 times more resources from out-of-state entities, $1.98 million. That brings SDFBML’s total resources available for the campaign to $2.21 million, eleven times more than the Chamber could muster.

New Approach South Dakota received $267K of SDFBML’s largely out-of-state resources to support it’s push for medical marijuana via Initiated Measure 26. New Approach marshaled another $91.3K of resources beyond SDFBML’s support; 62% of that amount came from out of state.

The Chamber got out-hustled by the pro-pot factions just in terms of South Dakota money; the Chamber got swamped by out-of-state support for liberalizing South Dakota’s marijuana laws.

But remember: the Chamber asked for that swamping. Just a year and a half ago, David Owen testified in a federal courtroom with me as his group’s lawyer, Marty Jackley, Esquire, helped me argue that banning out-of-state money from ballot question campaigns violates the Constitution. So in a way, folks seeking weedy solace can thank David Owen, Marty Jackley, and the Chamber of Commerce for making their great green victory this week possible. (On behalf of my co-litigiants—you’re welcome!)


  1. Bob Newland 2020-11-06 09:14

    Awwwww. Poor little babies can no longer ruin folks’ lives for nothing.

  2. bearcreekbat 2020-11-06 10:46

    Although I appreciate Bob’s optimism, it seems more accurate to recognize that this new constitutional amendment will mean that “Poor little babies [will have a more difficult opportunity to] ruin folks’ lives for nothing.

    The next step in bringing Bob’s optimism closer to reality is to stop the ineffective, unnecessary, and cruel ruining of peoples’ lives caused by imprisoning dangerous drug use and possession. The rational next step is to follow Oregon’s lead and substitute appropriate and safe treatment instead of prison for people that possess and use of genuinely dangerous substances like heroin and similar harmful substances.

    Even folks who care more about their pocketbooks than other people’s lives would benefit by stopping the incarceration of drug users. Research indicates prison for drug possession has a “high cost” yielding “low returns.”

    Hopefully SD will keep moving toward fulfilling Bob’s optimistic vision.

  3. leslie 2020-11-06 11:02

    Well said! It is one of the things meant by the simple passionate messaging to “Defund Police”. The cruelty mankind is capable of….

  4. Mark Anderson 2020-11-06 12:30

    I’ve always said that Libertarians are Republicans who smoke dope. Personally I haven’t smoked dope since about the time Marilyn cooked brownies for the Red
    Willow band in our trailer outside of Aberdeen four decades ago. South Dakota is now liberated.

  5. John 2020-11-06 14:03

    Ah, noem and her pal david lost one for the nanny state.

    The bigger question is, what’s noem going to do now that her fat Nixon is FIRED?

  6. Bob Newland 2020-11-06 17:41

    Yeah! What BCB said!

  7. Curt 2020-11-06 20:54

    SDPB had some comments from Sen Lee Schoenbeck earlier this week. Sen Schoenbeck bemoaned the fact that “out-of-state” money had come in and foisted A and 26 upon us unsuspecting rubes. It was a radio interview, but I assumed he said it with a straight face.

  8. jerry 2020-11-06 23:01

    Lee is supposed to be an attorney. From the sound of your post Curt, he must not be a very good one. How dumb sounding his comment.

  9. Jenny 2020-11-07 10:48

    Shoenbeck is of the far right, jerry. He will be grinning when the out of state money comes in from the cannabis sales. Minnesotans are bemused by their Trumpistan neighbor to the East voting weed in but will gladly come over and partake.

  10. Jenny 2020-11-07 17:52

    I meant to the West.

  11. Bob Newland 2020-11-07 18:02

    Schoenberg spent most of his lawyering years persecuting people for doing doob.

  12. jerry 2020-11-07 21:57

    So Lee Shoenbeck is actually a lefty. I suspected it. Makes sense to me now.

  13. John 2020-11-08 09:11

    The legislature, noem, and chamber should pull themselves out of the 20th Century. They should consult and learn lessons from the experience of states that made marijuana lawful – capturing and codifying the best regulatory ideas.
    But it’s likely the regressive legislature and noem will slow-walk progress serving their own rhetoric and not the people.

  14. Ray Tysdal 2020-11-09 14:20

    Recreational pot got 52,348 more votes than Kristi did
    when she was elected governor.

  15. John 2020-11-20 20:42

    In what feels like years ago, the usual prosecutorial, prison industrial complex drones are challenging the will of the voters to repeal recreational and medical use of a plant.

    Right wing nuts Thom, Miller, and Lamphre (via the Belle Fourche Beacon) are apparently using public and private funds to challenge the amendments in front of republican judges. (Let me guess how this will turn out. dripping sarcasm).

    They trot out the discredited trope of gateway drugs, etc., long discredited by advanced policies of over 30 years in Portugal and other nations. Those nations long decriminalized individual possession. The result: big decreases in use, abuse, drug related crime. While Thom, Miller, Lamphere, may mean well . . . or may be willfully ignorant . . . the fact remains that decriminalizing and taxing drugs results in less use, abuse, and crime. They can retain their 1950’s opinions, but not the facts of 2020. Drug use is a mere symptom, not the cause of underlying distress. Hone in on the social distress – as did Portugal, and other nations, and drug use and it’s related criminal behavior declines. It ain’t rocket science, unless, apparently, one lives in central/western South Dakota.

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