A ballot committee was filed on July 1 to defeat Amendment A – a measure which intends to legalize recreational marijuana and make it widely available throughout South Dakota.
“Amendment A will appear on this November’s ballot and goes beyond making pot legal,” said David Own, chairman of the committee and president of the South Dakota Chamber of Commerce and Industry. “It makes recreational marijuana use a part of our state’s 131 year-old Constitution that cannot be amended by our state legislature.”
“This isn’t about getting high with your friends. This is about permanently expanding access to a drug that can have powerful consequences,” said Owen as he filed the paperwork for establishing the “NO Way on Amendment A” Committee.
Owen and committee believe that this vote is even more crucial because Amendment A actually puts recreational marijuana into the State’s Constitution - which means every change to this law will have to be put on the ballot. “There is no way this belongs in the Constitution, as no other regulated intoxicant is part of the Constitution including alcohol or even tobacco,” said Owen.
The campaign will be sharing documented facts about the challenges faced by states, such as Colorado and Washington, that have legalized recreational marijuana. This includes the dramatic impact recreational marijuana has had on car accidents and fatalities, increased use by young people and the staggering social costs resulting from legalization. “Proponents will promise new revenue for the government, but won’t discuss the related social costs that follow from expanded access to marijuana,” Owen said.
Business leaders from across South Dakota have expressed concerns about the impact legal access to marijuana will have on the workforce of the state. Many businesses have federal contracts that require employees to be fired if they test positive for THC – fellow business managers from states that have increased access to marijuana say it has had a negative impact on workers.
Additional business groups have already decided to join the ‘NO Way on A’ effort. These groups include law enforcement officials, public officials and social work leaders. As employers start to study the issue, Owen expects other groups to be making announcements throughout the summer.
Owen noted, “ ‘The No Way on Amendment A’ effort is focused solely on preventing the legalization of recreational marijuana and having it put into the State Constitution. ‘No Way on A’ is not addressing the use of medical marijuana, which is also on the ballot as Initiated Measure 26 and is described as “an initiative that creates a legal structure for the regulated use of THC for medical conditions, a more limited use and properly left to the public officials to regulate.”