By Jesse Hoffmann

Initiated Measure 27
I’m not here to argue for or against the measure. Personally, I am vehemently opposed to recreational marijuana. I also plan to help the community push our City Council to pass as many local ordinances as we can to make it nearly impossible to use, buy, or posses it within city limits. That being said, for those who might think they want this to pass please, please, please do your research first:
“This amendment would legalize the use and possession of recreational marijuana, as well as marijuana accessories and paraphernalia, in South Dakota for people who are at least 21 years old. Individuals would be allowed to possess or distribute up to one ounce of marijuana.[1]
An individual could own up to three marijuana plants (with no more than six plants per private property) as long as the individual lives in a jurisdiction where there is not a licensed marijuana retail store. The initiative would require that marijuana plants must be kept in a locked space and out of public view.[1]
Civil penalties would apply to individuals who violate provisions of this amendment.[1]
So, already in the first few paragraphs there should be a few red flags for you. First, only 21 and over will be allowed. That’s great but for those teenagers out there who will be able to get it much easier once the bill passes. (everybody knows teenagers that want to drink, have no problem getting their hands on alcohol) Teens who get caught with pot will still be subject to laws that may affect their future.
Second, it seemed odd to me that a person that wants to grow it can only grow 3 plants. So, to any aspiring farmers out there that think they are going to make millions, or frugal smokers that want to grow their own, think again. Growing will be extremely regulated and likely subject to exorbitant fees. This means that growers will likely be limited to already wealthy corporate growers. The caveat is that you can only grow those three plants IF there is NO LICENSED grower in your jurisdiction. So once there is one NO ONE ELSE can grow it!…. Hmmmm. Moving on…
“Any plants over an ounce must be kept at one private residence, kept in a locked space, and are not visible to the public. No more than six plants can be kept on a single residence at one time”
Here’s the penalties associated with violating the above limitations:
The civil penalties for committing the following acts are described below:
  • A $250 penalty for keeping marijuana plants visible by a public place
  • A $250 penalty for keeping marijuana plants in an unlocked space
  • A $100 penalty for smoking marijuana in a public place that is not licensed for that activity
  • A $100 penalty for possession, distribution, or use of marijuana or marijuana accessories by a person under 21 years old. In lieu of this penalty, the option of attending up to four hours of drug education or counseling shall be provided.
This means the price of legal pot will be very high (I’ve seen $100 per ounce and more online in other states) So where will people go to get cheaper pot? That’s right, the same drug dealers they got it from before it was legal who also likely sell other extremely dangerous drugs that aren’t legal. The police won’t be able to tell the difference between illegal and legal pot once it’s in cigarette form.
.”This measure does not affect laws that regulate or prohibit:
  • Delivery or distribution of marijuana, or marijuana paraphernalia, to a person under 21 years old.
  • The use or possession of marijuana by a person under 21 years old.
  • Operating a motor vehicle under the influence of marijuana, or smoking marijuana while in a vehicle while it is being operated.
  • Possession or use of marijuana while on the grounds of a school, school bus, or correctional facility.
  • Consuming marijuana in a public place where it is not permitted by statute.
  • Consuming marijuana as part of a criminal penalty or diversion program.
  • Undertaking a task under the influence of marijuana that would constitute negligence or professional malpractice
  • Performing solvent-based extractions on marijuana using solvents other than water, glycerin, propylene glycol, vegetable oil, or food grade ethanol, unless permitted by statute.
The measure also does not:
  • Affect an employer’s ability to restrict marijuana use by employees
  • Limit an owner of private property to regulate or prohibit marijuana use on their property.
  • Limit the state or local government in prohibiting or regulating marijuana use on property owned by the state or local government”
So looking at the limitations already in the bill, it’s use will still be extremely limited. By the looks of it cities and counties can limit it even more if they so choose. I think this would be wise for our community for many reasons. Let it stay in certain towns for now and Belle Fourche can sit back and watch how it affects those communities. I know there are going to be some money mongers out there that think this will be great. Of course there will be some who wish to use it that think it will be great.
If someone wants to use it, fine. It should stay in that persons home. If they are under the influence they should stay in their home. The laws and local ordinances should be the same as alcohol if not more stringent.
This means Belle should be pro-active ahead of time to pass or update our ordinances whether the measure passes or not. (I haven’t looked into if we do have any already)
1. No public intoxication – Just like with alcohol. Someone visibly high in public and not able to handle themselves in public should be cited.
2. No open use in public – Again just like alcohol, “smokin’ doobies” on park benches or outside our local businesses and parks should be STRICTLY prohibited.
3. Limit dispensaries – If it passes we should limit dispensaries in town as much as possible if not outlaw them within city limits.
Maybe others can think of more we could do. But like before, those who wish to organize to protect our community should coordinate efforts before we hand them to the city leaders in an organized fashion. We can tell them what we want from the city in this manner in a professional and organized manner. This will make their jobs easier and help them work with us.