Initiated Measure 27 would free South Dakotans (and our visitors!) of the threat of arrest and conviction in state court for possessing an ounce or less of marijuana or three marijuana plants. IM 27 campaign leader Matthew Schweich says President Biden’s pardon of folks convicted federally for possessing pot may give the pot-decriminalization campaign a small boost:
Matt Schwiech, who is running South Dakota’s ballot initiative campaign to legalize recreational marijuana possession for adults, said the president’s pardons may hand the campaign a boost with older Democrats. It also underscores the campaign’s message that convictions for pot possession hurt people on job or rental applications, as well as that enforcing pot possession laws are a waste of time and resources for law enforcement, he said [Andrew DeMillo, “Biden’s Pot Pardons Could Boost States’ Legalization Drive,” AP, 2022.10.15].
Schweich is surely not implying that older Democrats are the only doobie brothers and sisters in South Dakota. He is more likely analyzing the political landscape:
- The youngsters doing pot are all voting Yes on IM 27, regardless of party and Presidential action.
- Republicans are already strong Nos on IM 27. The right-wingers who oppose the demon weed may happily point to Biden’s pardon as evidence that marijuana is part of the liberal plot to corrupt the youth. Associating marijuana with President Biden may pull some of the 8% undecided Republicans to No and flip a handful of the non-smokers among the 24% of Republicans who would otherwise vote Yes.
- 71% of Democrats are already on board with IM 27. The 20% who are voting No may be predominantly older, more conservative Democrats. Seeing how their fellow senior citizen Joe Biden has evolved in his thinking about marijuana may inspire older South Dakota Democrats to change with the times as well.