To legalize or not to legalize, that is the question

South Dakota currently has two proposed ballot measures with conflicting goals.
Published: Aug. 15, 2023 at 7:13 PM MDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - South Dakota currently has two proposed ballot measures with conflicting goals. One to legalize marijuana recreationally and one to repeal the existing medical marijuana program altogether.

The push to repeal South Dakota’s existing medical marijuana laws has been in the works for a few weeks now. The conversation was sparked again this week with the Attorney General releasing an explanation of the draft measure.

Travis Ismay is the main voice spearheading the effort to repeal medical marijuana and in a press release says “We believe South Dakota deserves a second chance to do what is right and be an example to the rest of the country.”

Ismay argues that since the drug is still illegal on the federal level municipalities should be allowed to opt out of the program.

Those against the repeal argue this would have a huge impact on the economy.

“So not only are you looking at a loss of revenues loss of taxes, loss of jobs. You’re also looking at the legal aspect of it now on that aspect these people aren’t just gonna sit by and say take away my business, take away my retail store,” said Leonard Vandermate, the owner of Hemporium Boutique.

Vandermate believes medical marijuana business owners are invested in this area and would likely pursue legal action if they were no longer able to use the licenses they paid for.

Aside from ethical or legal concerns, Vandermate argues measures like this can be a slippery slope to banning other products.

“Here’s the problem I have with this if they come and start taking away what they’ve already given us what we have a legal right to, and then they come and take it away. What stops them from taking everything else? The vapes, the tobacco, the alcohol, they’re coming after everything else,” said Vandermate.

In order for Ismay’s ballot initiative to be added to the next general election the measure would need about 17,000 signatures.