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IM 27: Voters Reject Recreational Marijuana—47% For, 53% Against

The support recreational marijuana got from South Dakota voters in 2020 went up in smoke this year. South Dakotans have rejected Initiated Measure 27, which sought to decriminalize the use of marijuana for kicks, by a vote of 47% for to 53% against.

In 2020, South Dakotans approved a stronger, broader marijuana legalization measure, Amendment A, 54% to 46%. (The courts blocked Amendment A, forcing marijuana advocates to try again this year with IM 27.) IM 27’s seven-point slide to doom seems to result partly from lower turnout. We expect midterms to draw fewer voters than Presidential elections, and indeed, the total votes cast in the 2022 general appear to be down 17% from the 2020 general. However, nearly 62,000 fewer people showed up to vote aye on IM 27 than voted aye on Amendment A two years ago. The no-shows in the IM 27 nay column compared to A in 2020 were only 7,400. These results suggest that marijuana legalization enjoys more support among less-engaged voters who show up for Presidential elections but skip the midterms.

Initiated Measure 27 failed to capture any of the initiative mojo that I suggested last month could thwart the predictions of pessimistic polls. IM 27 sought a gentler legal change than the big constitutional protection of marijuana in Amendment A; conventional wisdom says voters are more willing to change the law than to change the constitution to achieve a specific policy objective. IM 27 also could have capitalized on voter outrage at seeing another of their initiatives thwarted by Republican intervention (see also IM 22, the Anti-Corruption Act, 2016). But neither factor manifested itself in the IM 27 vote.

Opponents of recreational marijuana may now justifiably claim that the voters’ approval of Amendment A in 2020 was a fluke, and that the general sentiment of South Dakota voters, expressed in multiple previous elections and now in 2022, is that South Dakota is not prepared to legalize recreational marijuana.


  1. larry kurtz 2022-11-09

    Therapeutic cannabis for white people; cannabis for all adults on the Rez. Why anyone would want to be in Marty Jackley’s database remains a mystery.

  2. All Mammal 2022-11-09

    The overturn of the voters’ will by our governor last time made people give up on voting. It proved to them to be a farce. I couldn’t deny it. Why risk your health during a pandemic to go to the polls to cast your votes when the powers that be just use it for TP?

    Salty today. Tequila for breakfast sounds about right. Skōl.

  3. Jenny 2022-11-09

    Don’t feel bad SD Cannabis users
    MN reelected Cannabis supporter Walz, flipped the GOP Senate and retained majority in the House so we will get weed fully legalized here I’m thinking by next year.

  4. Bob Newland 2022-11-09

    “… went up in smoke.” Come on, Cory. You’re better than that.

    Anyway, nothing has changed. Anyone who wants weed can still get it, at prices better than the medical cannabis shops present.

  5. Nix 2022-11-09

    No surprise….
    When good German and Irish Catholics lie through their teeth, When Jim Kinyon and Fred Deutsch and the Presentation Sisters blast lie after lie, the good parishioners go right along.
    Yep. Sheep.
    What happened to separation of church and state?
    Part of me wants to blast the Catholics as
    a perfect example of danger to kids, Kinyon and his lying pack will take communion, pray at supper and break
    one of their commandments to make their
    No worries……
    Good things come to those who wait.
    In the meantime, I’ll continue to vacation
    in Colorado, Montana and Michigan.
    The absolute crazy part of PSDK is
    that they have done absolutely nothing
    to address the Cannabis issue in my state.
    ANYONE that wants to enjoy Cannabis is and has been for years.
    And they sure as hell haven’t protected any kids, because there was nothing
    in IM27 that they needed protection from.
    Other than The lying bastards at
    Rapid City Catholic Social Services.

  6. Neal 2022-11-09

    Brendan Johnson is to blame for this.

  7. Phil 2022-11-09

    This election may be the back breaker for me. At the realtor’s urging, shoulda sold my cabin in the Hills last spring, but have been providing (personally) subsidized affordable housing for a long time local for 15 years and didn’t want to condemn him to some Rancid City rathole. My home state is too much like Mississippi, without the accent. At least my current Congressional representative, Boebie Boebert, appears to be in trouble. She and Kristi have a different definition of freedom than I do. Time to move on and make room for a new freedom loving South Dakota immigrant.

  8. Phil 2022-11-09

    Speaking of freedom, when I bought the place I had one of the only short term rental permits in town. Now, after 15 years of paying taxes and mortgage and providing decent local housing; not to mention supporting various good causes, I’m surrounded by STR’s in the neighborhood. The town fathers have decided I no longer have the freedom to do as I wish with my own property.

  9. P. Aitch 2022-11-09

    It makes sense, to me. A vote for legal weed meant a vote to end your bi-annual vacations to Colorado. I’m told, by very responsible, white collar SD citizens, that just leaving SD for a while is as good a high as a toke of Kitchen Sink and a trunk load of gummies. #BrainDrain #WhiteFlight

  10. larry kurtz 2022-11-09

    Affordable property can still be had on Colorado’s western slope and in parts of New Mexico. Winters aren’t eight months long, freedom actually means freedom, the legislatures aren’t insane like the one in my home state is and you can buy seeds to grow your own or go to the dispensary for a myriad of strains.

    Or you can stay in South Dakota and whine.

  11. Nix 2022-11-09

    Last fall in was in Sante Fe and Albuquerque.
    This August I spent a little time in Palisades , CO.
    What a great little town. Ya, the peaches too.
    Don’t tempt me.

  12. Arlo Blundt 2022-11-09

    Vote was too close to keep putting pot smokers in jail. Criminalization of pot is just persecution for political reasons.

  13. Mark Anderson 2022-11-09

    What do you expect? South Dakota is a backwater and will remain one. Willie shouldn’t play in Rapid anymore.

  14. Jake 2022-11-09

    P.Aitch-for god’s sake don’t come to Iowa as they just re-instated their Kristi-like governor, age-old stuck in the mud senator and passed a stupider gun law. The people here have been “hoodwinked” big time by the GOP.

  15. Vi Kingman 2022-11-09

    Sigh. Time to put my 1970s bong back in storage.

  16. Richard Schriever 2022-11-09

    15 minutes to Minnesota from most of the SD population. Just more $$ going out of state.

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