Pro and anti-recreational cannabis campaigns in full swing with new field office opening in Rapid City

RAPID CITY, SD (KOTA) — One of the hottest races in the state’s midterm elections is the legalization of recreational cannabis.

After a new poll suggests voters may not be as keen on passing it as they were two years ago, campaigns on both sides of the issue are bracing for a deadly fight.

The Campaign to Legalize Marijuana for Recreational Use is expanding its operations, opening a new field office in Rapid City ahead of November’s midterm elections.

The office is in the same location on North Street as the IM 27 petition campaign held in April.

Matthew Schweich, campaign manager for Yes on 27, said the group was excited to use the facility to distribute signage and urge people to register to vote.

“We want to bring volunteers here to do some training, we’ll do some phone bank training where people can sit here and make these calls in the office,” Schweich said. “We will do the same with canvassing training, bringing people in and talking to them by knocking on doors, talking to voters and filling out registration forms.”

Another organization that fully supports the measure is Genesis Farms, which already distributes medical cannabis after it was passed two years ago.

Director Emmett Reistroffer said the rollout of medical cannabis has gone smoothly and expects the same for leisure.

“We believe no one should be punished for using cannabis responsibly as an adult,” Reistroffer said. “So measure 27 seems like the logical step forward that most states across the country have decided to take after being medical first.”

However, not everyone shares the enthusiasm for the precedent set by other states.

Protecting South Dakota Kids is the opposition campaign against the legalization of recreational cannabis.

President Jim Kinyon said the organization is working with far less in its fight to keep recreational marijuana out of South Dakota.

“There’s a whole coalition, there’s groups coming together, and all we are are moms and dads, grandmas and grandfathers, mental health professionals, law enforcement, people who do a wide range of things coming together to say no,” Kinyon said.

A recent South Dakota News Watch poll shows more than 54% of respondents oppose legalizing cannabis, but advocates say those results don’t match the levels of support they’ve seen.

The election is November 8.

Denise W. Whigham