Adult-use cannabis legalization advocates succeeded in landing another petition on the South Dakota ballot, but polls are not in their favor this time around.
While South Dakota voters already passed an adult-use legalization referendum with a 54.2% majority in 2020—but had their voices cut off following a state Supreme Court decision in 2021—two polls show that enthusiasm for reform is now lagging behind heading into next month’s election.
Most recently, pollsters from South Dakota State University (SDSU) found that 47% of the state’s likely voters oppose Initiated Measure 27—the 2022 adult-use legalization ballot question—while 45% support the referendum and 8% are undecided. Those results are from the “2022 South Dakota Election Study” that was conducted from Sept. 28 to Oct. 10 by a nonpartisan research group housed in the School of American and Global Studies at SDSU.
The poll, which included input from 565 registered voters, has a four-point margin of error.
“This shows that the electorate may have shifted on the issue since approving a similar measure in 2020 and is bucking the national trend,” SDSU pollsters wrote in their findings, recognizing the growing support for reform elsewhere in the U.S.
That poll deviates slightly from a mid-July 2022 poll of 500 registered voters conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategies, which revealed 54.4% of South Dakotans opposed adult-use legalization while 43.8% supported it—a 10.6-point margin verses the 2-point margin in the more recent poll.
In the meantime, organizers from South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws (SDBML), dubbed the “Yes on 27” campaign, are set to embark on a 10-day statewide tour that includes stops in at least a dozen cities, Dakota News Now reported. The tour path includes Watertown, Aberdeen, Sisseton, Huron, Mitchell, Yankton, Wagner, Pierre, Eagle Butte, Rapid City, Belle Fouche and Pine Ridge, concluding on Oct. 24—the last day South Dakotans can register for the Nov. 8 election.
SDBML Campaign Director Matthew Schweich said during an Oct. 12 press conference that the tour includes two main goals: to register voters and provide them accurate information about legal cannabis.
“The reason why I hope you’ll come talk to us is because there’s a lot of misinformation out there right now, and I think that what we’re seeing in 2022 is a much more misleading opposition campaign than what we saw in 2020,” he said.